Holding on to Your Health Care

When COBRA Runs Out

I cannot stress this enough: Under no circumstances should you go uninsured, even if you're healthy. The No. 1 cause of bankruptcy is illness and medical bills. Unforeseen events — from a car accident to appendicitis — can cost between $11,000 and $15,000. It's just not worth the risk.

What you could do if you're healthy and have no pre-existing conditions is buy an individual insurance plan straight from an insurance provider. According to Forrester research, the average monthly premium for an individual under these programs is $158 and $366 for a family.

These rates will vary greatly depending on coverage level and deductibles for each plan. A good place to compare plans is at cobralearning.com.

Don't Forget Professional Organizations

The Web site has a COBRA subsidy calculator, which allows you to see what your COBRA cost will be, and it will also show you comparable individual plans. The important thing to remember with these plans is that you can be rejected, so carefully consider your options before declining COBRA.

Another tip: Many professional organizations have deals on health insurance. Check those sites out for discounts as well.

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