One of my clients was diagnosed with breast cancer after he’d unexpectedly lost his job as a Food Services Director. Another client’s “wrenched knee” made walking agonizing. Driving his car to job interviews was almost impossible. He needed surgery, but he’d lost his health insurance. A talented, 22 year old client was afraid to get the results of her ovarian cancer test – she’d been laid-off, how could she pay for treatments?

At approximately $400/month for individuals and $1,078/month for families, when they’re laid-off people are often shocked to learn the cost of continuing health insurance under COBRA. Their health insurance is no longer being partly subsidized by their employer plus there’s a 2% administrative fee. These “Dislocated Workers” also usually discover they had been making too much money to qualify for Medicaid.

If you’re eligible, it’s vital to keep in mind that you have 60 days to accept COBRA. During that time you can be looking at alternate insurance programs. For example, many Americans don’t realize that the average cost of private health insurance is $158/month for an individual and $366/month for a family, according to the latest nation-wide statistics.

If you’ve been laid-off due to “increased production going to other countries” you might be eligible for benefits under Congress’ “Trade Readjustment Allowance (TRA).” Along with extended unemployment benefits, there is money for training and a health insurance coverage tax credit of 65% for your COBRA, or private health insurance payments. Find out if your company has filed for TRA. If they haven’t, you and two other laid-off colleagues can file. Go online and/or contact your local employment office for eligibility and benefit information.

Many people aren’t aware Congress included a 65% COBRA subsidy in the February, 2009 “Stimulus Bill.” To be eligible you have to have been laid-off between 9/1/08 through 12/31/09. If your company has/had 20 or more workers, find out if they’ve applied yet. If not, pursue it.

Even if you’re employed and have a good medical insurance plan, the associated costs of a catastrophic illness or an accident can be devastating. Ask your employer about offering a low-cost, high-benefit “supplemental insurance” plan that is employee-owned. Make sure they offer a plan that gives Employees the option of continuing the insurance, at the same “employer rate,” if their employment is later terminated. This type of plan is available; you just have to do your research.

John recently shared the anguish of hearing his lifelong friend say “I’ve worked hard all my life, paid my taxes, now I’m going to die because I lost my health insurance.” His friend had lost his job. He felt he couldn’t afford to see a doctor, by the time he did, it was too late. It wasn’t the first time I’ve heard such a heart-wrenching story, but I would like to make it my last. Please help me get the word out.

Author's Bio: 

Judy Gillespie, CPRW, CEIP, CPCC
Telephone: 321.953.8361 Cellular: 850.524.2917

“My goal for each and every one of our clients is a Lifetime of Career Happiness.”

From Graduating Students to CEO’s and Entrepreneurs, Judy Gillespie, founder of “Career Avenues by Judy,” provides a complete range of writing and professional development services for clients in a multitude of industries and occupations. Her professional memberships include Career Directors International, National Association of Résumé Writers, and the Professional Association of Résumé Writers & Career Coaches.

Judy is a “Cover Letters For Dummies” contributing author and teaches a “Secrets To Marketing Yourself” class at Florida Institute of Technology’s Women’s Business Center. She’s appeared on “Good Morning America” and provided résumé critiques and career counseling at GMA’s “Great American Job Fair.” Judy has received several writing and coaching awards and recognitions.

One of just over 100 people nationwide who have earned PARW/CC’s Professional Career Coach (CPCC) credential, Judy also has the industry standard setting Professional Résumé Writer (CPRW) and Employment Interview Professional (CEIP) national certifications. She’s a former Workshop Leader, Career Counselor, and Business Liaison for several federally funded workforce assistance programs on the East Coast and Assistant to the President of a Senior Executive search company.

In addition to being a Career Expert, Judy is a newspaper columnist, TV commentator, and professional speaker. She created, produced, and co-hosted “Beverly Life,” a television talk show. Prior to discovering the career she loves, Judy was a Corporate Human Resources Executive and a Small Business Manager in several industries. She has a degree in Business and is a Certified Paralegal, Notary Public, and Licensed Insurance Agent.

Strongly civic-minded, Judy is a member of “Florida Today’s” 2009 Citizens Advisory Panel. A former School Board member, “Dollars for Scholars” board member, and Family Services volunteer, she’s served in a number of leadership roles including initiating a Community Oriented Policing (C.O.P.) program, Taxpayer Association, and Scholarship Foundation. Judy’s a Certified Operation Lifesaver Presenter and an active Chamber of Commerce participant.