Are you jobless? What you wonder. Can I get Health Insurance Without a Job?
If you lose your employment for any reason, one of the biggest concerns is how to ensure your potential medical needs are covered. The good news is you can get health insurance without a job. While group health insurance is not an option for those without an employer, you can still qualify for individual or family plans. Individual health insurance offers all the same coverage options as you may find from employer-sponsored plans.
If you are unemployed, your employer doesn’t offer health insurance, or you do not qualify for benefits offered at your job, you still have a few health insurance coverage options:
- Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP
- Affordable Care Act (ACA) insurance
- Individual or family health insurance
Most Americans do get their health insurance through their employer. According to a 2017 survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) about half (49%) of Americans get employee sponsored health insurance.
Even if you’re in the minority, you can still find unemployed health insurance that’s right for you, your situation, and your budget. At eHealth, our licensed brokers have the expertise and experience to help you find the best individual or family health insurance plan for your needs and budget.
Continuation of Health Coverage (COBRA)
If you lose your health benefits, you may qualify for COBRA, which allows you to continue group health benefits provided by your group plan for a limited period time.
Circumstances that may trigger COBRAare:
- Job loss
- Reduction in hours that cause a loss in coverage
- Divorce or separation from a covered employee
- The death of a covered employee
- The employee becomes entitled to Medicare
- The death of a covered employee
- Or a dependent of a covered employee ceases to be a dependent under the terms of the plan (an adult child turning 26, for example)
If you’ve experienced any of these you may be eligible for COBRA.
However, with COBRA you will have to pay the total premium, rather than split it with your former employer. With group insurance, your employer typically pays the majority of the bill; according to the KFF the employer paid about 82% of the premium for single coverage and 71% for family coverage. You will have to pay 100% of the premium with COBRA. However, under the ARPA, the federal government will pay the entire COBRA premium for unemployed individuals through September, 2021.
After one of these qualifying events, you’ll usually have 60 days to decide whether or not you’ll opt into your former employer’s COBRA benefits.
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Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP
You also may be eligible for government health insurance programs if you are unemployed. Eligibility will depend on your age, whether you have children, and what your current income amount might be.
You may be eligible for Medicare if you are 65 or older (even if you’re not ready to retire), a younger person with a disability, or have End-Stage Renal Disease.
If you are a low-income person or family you may be eligible for Medicaid. If you are a low-income family with children, you may be eligible for CHIP.
ACA-compliant plans, also known as Obamacare plans, are another option you have if you make too much money per year to qualify for Medicaid or CHIP.
These plans are what you can find on the government Marketplace or your state’s health insurance exchanges, depending on where you live. ACA compliant plans are required to cover 10 basic benefits:
- Care before and after a child is born
- Preventative visits
- Outpatient services
- Emergency room visits
- Inpatient care (care in hospital)
- Prescription drugs
- Mental health and substance use disorder services
- Lab services
- Pediatric services, including oral and vision care
- Rehabilitative and facilitative services
Individual private health insurance
Individual private health insurance is a plan you purchase from a non-government exchange. Shopping on a private exchange, like eHealth, allows you to have more variety in your coverage options. You will also have the option of shopping for ACA-compliant plans, and you’ll even be able to apply for subsidies through eHealth by proxy.
Keep in mind that since the ARPA expanded qualifications for subsidies, you might now be eligible for assistance even if you did not qualify before. According to the new rules, enrollees now do not pay more than 8.5% of their income towards their insurance coverage, which has been reduced from nearly 10% under the prior limits. In addition, those earning more than 400% of the federal poverty level may now qualify for subsidies. In 2021, that includes individuals making about $51,000 or less annually and families of four making more than $104,800 annually.
If you find that subsidies aren’t an option for you, you’ll also be able to shop for alternative individual and family plans that may offer less benefits but be within in your price range. Short-term health insurance and catastrophic plans are two options that fall into this category.
Short-term health insurance
One option for people looking for a temporary, affordable solution is short-term health insurance. If you’re experiencing a short lapse in coverage due to job loss or ineligibility for benefits, a short-term health insurance plan may be a good option for you.
Short-term health insurance plans are meant to help you bridge gaps in your health insurance coverage, until you can find a more long-term solution. They tend to be much cheaper than major medical health insurance premiums, however they do not have the same level of coverage.
Get free short-term health insurance quotes today with eHealth and browse coverage options available in your area to find the plan that suits your specific needs.
What happens to your employer-sponsored health insurance when you are laid off?
If you are laid off from your job, your health insurance coverage typically ends when your job does. Some employers will extend benefits to the end of the month in which you are laid off, but this varies from company to company. Under a federal program known as COBRA, you may keep your current insurance, but you must pay the full amount of the premiums and any other expenses previously covered by your former employer.
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The cost of keeping your current coverage under COBRA can be quite high. Many individuals find it is more cost-effective to enroll in an unemployed health insurance plan that will offer similar coverage for less money in many cases.
How can I get health insurance without a job?
Group insurance through an employer may be the most common way to obtain health coverage, but it is not the only one. If you find yourself unemployed, a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) allows you to enroll in an individual or family health plan within 60 days. Other events that might make you eligible for an SEP include:
- Changing your marital status
- Having a baby (or adopting a child)
- Becoming a US citizen
- Moving to an area where your current plan is not offered
- Losing health insurance from your employer
Once you enter your SEP, you can shop for unemployed health insurance on the exchange offered by your state or through a licensed broker like eHealth. If you choose a plan that is compliant with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), you may qualify for subsidies if you can’t afford your health plan on your own. With increases in subsidies due to the ARPA, more people are qualifying for subsidies than ever before.
How to find the right health insurance plan
If you have encountered a change in your employment, eHealth can help you find the best health insurance plan available in your state. We offer licensed agents in every state, ready to help you find a health insurance plan that meets your needs and budget. When you enroll in a plan through eHealth, you can sign up on our website, through our live chat or on the phone. Once you are enrolled, we offer 24/7 support to help you manage your plan. Check out individual and family health insurance plans in your area to learn more about your options.