Your basic health insurance plan probably goes into jeopardy within days of losing your job. In most cases, the coverage is paid in advance for a period of up to 30 days, during which time the Human Resources department or the insurance provider will contact you regarding your options for continuation of service.
If your employer had more than 20 people working for the company and offered group health insurance, you are protected for a limited time under a federal law, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, or COBRA for short. This law was passed in 1986, and gives employees the right to continue their employer sponsored healthcare for up to 90 days after employment ends. If you elect to use the COBRA plan, your health coverage will be exactly the same as you had before, but you will be responsible for paying the full premiums, including the portion previously paid by your employer. This could make COBRA an expensive option, but it will prevent your health insurance from suddenly being cut off.
If the cost of COBRA is beyond your price range, you may want to look around for replacement health insurance through organizations such as AARP, or even AAA. If you are starting a home business, check with your local better business bureau to find out what options are available for small businesses in your area. COBRA is meant to be your final line of defense against losing health coverage, not a replacement for insurance through mainstream sources. It can give you another 90 days of coverage, but you would be well-advised to begin the search immediately.