Are you unemployed? What makes you wonder? Can I get health insurance if I don’t have a job?
If you lose your job for any reason, one of your main concerns will be how to ensure that your potential medical needs are covered. The good news is that you can obtain health insurance even if you do not have a job. While group health insurance is not an option for those without an employer, individual or family plans are available. Individual health insurance provides the same coverage options as employer-sponsored plans.
If you are unemployed, your employer does not provide health insurance, or you do not qualify for the benefits provided by your employer, you still have a few options for health insurance coverage:
- Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP
- Affordable Care Act (ACA) insurance.
- Health insurance for individuals or families
The majority of Americans obtain their health insurance through their employer. According to a 2017 Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) survey, roughly half (49%) of Americans have employer-sponsored health insurance.
Even if you’re in the minority, you can still find unemployed health insurance that fits your needs, situation, and budget. Our licensed brokers at eHealth have the knowledge and experience to assist you in finding the best individual or family health insurance plan for your needs and budget.
If your health benefits are terminated, you may be eligible for COBRA, which allows you to continue group health benefits provided by your group plan for a limited time.
COBRA may be triggered by the following circumstances:
- Loss of employment
- Reduction in hours resulting in coverage loss
- Separation or divorce from a covered employee
- A covered employee’s death
- The employee is now eligible for Medicare.
- A covered employee’s death
- Or a covered employee’s dependent ceases to be a dependent under the terms of the plan (an adult child turning 26, for example)
If you’ve had any of these, you might be eligible for COBRA.
However, with COBRA, you must pay the entire premium rather than splitting it with your former employer. Your employer typically pays the majority of the bill for group insurance; according to the KFF, the employer paid approximately 82 percent of the premium for single coverage and 71 percent for family coverage. With COBRA, you will be required to pay the entire premium. However, under the ARPA, the federal government will pay the entire COBRA premium for unemployed people until September 20, 2021.
You usually have 60 days after one of these qualifying events to decide whether or not to enroll in your former employer’s COBRA benefits.
Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP
If you are unemployed, you may also be eligible for government health insurance programs. Your eligibility will be determined by your age, whether you have children, and your current income.
If you are 65 or older (even if you are not ready to retire), a younger person with a disability, or have End-Stage Renal Disease, you may be eligible for Medicare.
If you or your family has a low income, you may be eligible for Medicaid. You may be eligible for CHIP if you are a low-income family with children.
If you make too much money per year to qualify for Medicaid or CHIP, you have another option: ACA-compliant plans, also known as Obamacare plans.
Depending on where you live, you can find these plans on the government Marketplace or your state’s health insurance exchange. ACA-compliant plans must provide the following ten basic benefits:
- Prenatal and postnatal care Preventative visits
- Outpatient treatment
- Visits to the emergency room
- Inpatient treatment (care in hospital)
- Prescription medications
- Services for mental illness and substance abuse
- Laboratory services
- Pediatric services, such as dental and vision care
- Services for rehabilitation and facilitation
- Private health insurance for individuals
Individual private health insurance
Individual private health insurance is a plan obtained through a non-government exchange.
Shopping on a private exchange, such as eHealth, gives you more options for coverage. You will also be able to shop for ACA-compliant plans, and you will be able to apply for subsidies through eHealth by proxy.
Keep in mind that because the ARPA expanded eligibility for subsidies, you may now be eligible for assistance even if you did not previously qualify. The new rules require enrollees to pay no more than 8.5 percent of their income for insurance coverage, a reduction from nearly 10 percent under the previous limits. Furthermore, those earning more than 400 percent of the federal poverty line may now be eligible for subsidies. In 2021, this includes individuals earning less than $51,000 per year and families earning more than $104,800 per year.
If you discover that subsidies are not an option for you, you will be able to shop for alternative individual and family plans that may provide fewer benefits but are within your budget. This category includes both short-term health insurance and catastrophic plans.
Short-term medical insurance
Short-term health insurance is one option for people looking for a temporary, low-cost solution. A short-term health insurance plan may be a good option for you if you have a brief lapse in coverage due to job loss or ineligibility for benefits.
Short-term health insurance plans are designed to fill gaps in your health insurance coverage while you look for a more long-term solution. They are typically much less expensive than major medical health insurance premiums, but they do not provide the same level of coverage.
Get free short-term health insurance quotes from eHealth today and browse coverage options in your area to find the plan that best meets your needs.
When you lose your job, what happens to your employer-sponsored health insurance?
When you are laid off from your job, your health insurance coverage usually ends as well. Some employers will continue to provide benefits until the end of the month in which you are laid off, but this varies by company. You may keep your current insurance under a federal program known as COBRA, but you must pay the full amount of premiums and any other expenses previously covered by your former employer.
Keeping your current coverage under COBRA can be quite expensive. Many people find it more cost-effective to enroll in an unemployed health insurance plan, which provides comparable coverage for less money in many cases.
How can I get health insurance if I don’t have a job?
Although group insurance through an employer is the most common way to obtain health insurance, it is not the only option. If you become unemployed, you have 60 days to enroll in an individual or family health plan through a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). Other events that may qualify you for a SEP include:
- Changes in marital status
- Having a child (or adopting a child)
- Obtaining US citizenship
- Moving to a location where your current plan is not available
- Loss of employer-provided health insurance
After enrolling in your SEP, you can shop for unemployed health insurance on your state’s exchange or through a licensed broker like eHealth. If you choose an ACA-compliant plan, you may be eligible for subsidies if you cannot afford your health insurance on your own. With increased subsidies as a result of the ARPA, more people are qualifying for assistance than ever before.
How to Choose the Best Health Insurance Plan
If your employment situation has changed, eHealth can assist you in locating the best health insurance plan available in your state. We have licensed agents in every state who are ready to assist you in finding a health insurance plan that fits your needs and budget. When you enroll in a plan through eHealth, you can do so via our website, live chat, or phone. We provide 24/7 support to help you manage your plan once you’ve enrolled. To learn more about your options, look into individual and family health insurance plans in your area.