If your family relies on your current position for health benefits, that could put extra weight on your shoulders when you’re looking for a new job. Even if you’re unhappy in your current role, you might talk yourself out of leaving to meet your family’s needs.
Roughly 157 million Americans depend on employer-sponsored health insurance, according to research from the Kaiser Family Foundation. That’s close to half of the US population.
Leaving your job when it’s the source of your health insurance is a tricky situation, but the good news is that you always have options. Here are five job-hunting tips for folks who are currently providing their families with health benefits.
1. Time Your Job Hunt Right
If your partner has access to health benefits through their employer, timing your job hunt right can make for a smoother transition. Shoot to align your job search with your partner’s open enrollment season. This typically annual window is when employees have the option to modify their benefits, so your partner may be able to add you and any other dependents to their plan.
While the timing of open enrollment can vary by company, it usually takes place in November for benefit plans that begin the first of the year.
2. Pad Your Savings Account
Experts recommend saving 3-6 months’ worth of expenses in an emergency fund meant to serve as a safety net during periods of financial uncertainty. If your family is counting on you for health benefits, it’s wise to build up this cushion even more. Doing so can provide financial peace of mind during your job hunt.
Let’s say you land a great new gig, but your health insurance doesn’t begin for a month or two. Having that extra money in your savings account can help cover the cost of COBRA during this gap. Alternatively, you can use these funds to pay for health insurance premiums for the time being.
3. Ask the Right Interview Questions
While some companies offer employee benefits right away, it isn’t uncommon to wait up to 90 days before benefits kick in. This probationary period is generally meant to ensure a new hire is a good fit before benefits are extended.
When you’re actively interviewing, be sure to inquire about when health insurance would begin. Depending on how it measures up against the company’s overall compensation and benefits package, a long waiting period might nudge you to pass.
On the flip side, the company may offer other benefits that make financial sense to you — even if you have to wait for your health benefits to kick in. For example, some employers offer student loan repayment assistance programs that could substantially reduce your student debt. For some, that might be a worthwhile trade.
4. Transition to Another Role in the Same Company
Leaving your employer could feel particularly disruptive if your family is accustomed to their health benefits, especially if anyone in your household is dealing with chronic health issues. They may have formed relationships with doctors and specialists they trust. One potential workaround is to seek a new position within the same company. This way, your role would change, but your benefits would remain the same.
This can shake out in a variety of ways. It could mean approaching management and proposing a raise or promotion. Just be sure to back up your request with concrete examples of the value you bring to the company and why you’re worth it. If you’re looking for more of a career transition, ask around internally to see if any openings are available in different departments. Your company may be willing to consider you as an in-house hire who has already proven their loyalty.
5. Narrow Your Search to Companies That Offer Health Insurance
When deciding which companies to target for your job search, narrow the list down to organizations that offer health benefits. It can help streamline your efforts and prevent you from wasting time on companies that ultimately won’t be the right fit. A quick Google search is usually enough to lead you to an employer’s basic benefit offerings.
Note, too, that benefits aren’t solely reserved for salaried positions. Plenty of companies, like Starbucks, Lowe’s, and Whole Foods, provide hourly workers with quality health insurance. This could be a great option for someone looking to transition to a freelance or consulting role without sacrificing their family’s benefits.
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