Some reminders on buying health insurance, whether you're self-employed, you've been RIFfed, or are just shopping around for a new policy:

Federal group coverage "ceases after 30 days from separation" with Uncle Sam, notes Edward Shell of the U.S. Civil Service Commission. After the one-month grace period, exfederal employes must either "find a new plan or get private insurance."

Check to see if your group coverage can be converted into an individual policy after you leave your job. The price may be advantageous, and you don't have to qualify for a new insurance policy. But the benefits can be sharply reduced, so make sure the change is spelled out.

"If you're healthy, not more than 60 years old and want more complete protection," a temporary policy might be the answer, suggests the Health Insurance Association. "These policies will frequently insure you from two to six months, including payments toward hospitalization, intensive-care treatment, doctor (inhospital) visits, surgical expenses," etc.

Health insurance is available in two main forms, often combined. "Basic" protection is geared toward many specific hospital costs, while "major medical" will "pay for just about everything prescribed by your doctor."

See if you qualify for money-saving group rates through membership in a professional organization. Diane Rothberg, president of the Alexandria-based Association of Part-Time Professionals, says members are clamoring for group health insurance policies currently being reviewed.

"As more and more people are looking at something other than the rigid, lockstep 40 hours a week," she says, "I think insurance companies are going to have to start looking at their policies."