Losing a job is stressful enough without the added worry of losing health insurance coverage. Many people’s health insurance is tied to their employment, leaving them vulnerable when job loss strikes. Fortunately, there are options to secure health insurance even when you’re jobless, but navigating through these choices effectively can be daunting.
Our comprehensive guide is dedicated to helping you understand and explore all the potential avenues for health insurance for unemployed individuals. The objective is to ensure that you and those dependent on you are covered during these trying times. With the right knowledge and tools, you can ensure you have the protection you need when facing unexpected health issues or medical expenses.
Health Insurance for Unemployed
Getting health insurance without an employer to help pay for it can be expensive. Many resources can help you choose the right plan to suit your budget and coverage requirements. Find out what you need to know about getting insurance when you are unemployed.
What You Should Know About Health Insurance When You’re Unemployed?
- Choose a health insurance marketplace in your state. Unemployed people have a main option for health insurance.
- Consider state programs. Low-income people may be eligible for Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Programs (CHIP).
- Compare health insurance rates: the most affordable plan balances health care costs with premiums.
How Do You Get Health Insurance When You’re Unemployed?
Michael D. Miller, MD, HealthPolCom’s expert in health care and the life sciences, says it can be confusing if you do not have access to insurance through your employer. However, there are many resources you can use.
Dr. Miller suggests you visit your state’s local library or the Health Insurance Marketplace.
Dr. Miller says that some social service organizations in your area may offer assistance or navigation services to those seeking insurance. The best way to learn is to ask around. They may have staff who can help, but they might not list it on their website.
Unemployed people can find information about health insurance options on Healthcare.gov. The marketplace offers health insurance at a lower cost based on household size and income, not employment status. Your household’s income may determine whether you qualify for a subsidized plan, Medicaid, or CHIP.
The marketplace will cover you from the 1st of the following month after your last health insurance coverage.
Types of Health Insurance if You’re Unemployed
You have two main options if you lose your job-based insurance: you can purchase a plan via the Health Insurance Marketplace.
Fill out an application on Healthcare.gov to purchase a marketplace plan. Your income will be used to determine whether you are eligible for discounts on monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs. You may qualify for Medicaid or CHIP if your income is too low. These programs provide free or affordable health insurance.
Medicaid and CHIP can be obtained by families, pregnant women, and people with disabilities. Some states offer expanded coverage for all residents below a certain income level. Healthcare.gov allows you to determine if your household qualifies by answering some quick questions regarding the size of your family, where you live, and how much income you earn. It is not enough to answer qualifying questions. You’ll have to create an account on Healthcare.gov or go through the Medicaid agency in your state.
It’s still worth applying, even if you do not qualify for Medicaid. You may be eligible for a lower-cost plan through the state program. You can apply at any time for Medicaid or an online Marketplace plan.
Please note that each state has its name for the Medicaid and CHIP programs. Here, you can find out what your state’s programs are called.
Selecting a Marketplace Plan
You can select from various health insurance policies categorized as bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum based on their level of coverage.
- Bronze plans have the lowest monthly premiums but can cost you thousands of dollars a year in deductibles. They are the best option for low-cost protection against worst-case scenarios.
- Silver plans have lower deductibles than Bronze plans and offer moderately priced premiums. Silver plans are the best option if you are eligible for cost-sharing or willing to pay slightly more for a lower premium.
- Gold plans are higher than those of silver and bronze, but they provide more assistance in paying for your care with relatively low deductibles. These plans are good if you need a lot of medical care.
- Platinum plans charge the highest monthly premiums. They also have the lowest cost when receiving care. Platinum plans are a good choice if you need medical care and don’t mind a higher monthly premium in exchange for covering almost all your costs.
There are “catastrophic plans” with low monthly rates but high deductibles. These plans are designed to protect against worst-case scenarios.
Visit Healthcare.gov to learn how to calculate your total cost of care and choose the best plan for you.
Within each metal category, you will have to select between plans from exclusive provider organizations (EPO), health maintenance organizations (HMO), point of service plans (POS), and preferred provider organizations (PPO). Depending on where you live, you may only have access to a few or all of the plans in each metal category. This is a brief overview of the different types of plans:
- EPO plans are managed-care plans that only cover your treatment at providers in the network, except for emergencies.
- HMOs usually cover only in-network doctors, except in emergencies. You may be required to live in the service area of an HMO to receive coverage. These plans tend to emphasize wellness and preventative care.
- POS plans allow you to pay less for services provided by in-network doctors and specialists. It would help if you had a primary healthcare provider to refer you to specialists.
- PPO plans allow you to receive care from providers in your network at a lower cost. However, you can also see providers outside the network without a referral if you are willing to pay a higher price.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services provides a PDF containing more information on each plan type to help you select the right plan.
Can You Get Financial Assistance for Health Insurance if You’re Unemployed?
Unemployment can help you pay for insurance. Dr. Miller says that people with low or moderate incomes may be eligible for reduced premiums and other financial assistance to help them pay for their insurance.
The American Rescue Act of 2020 has increased the financial aid available to those who have lost their jobs. Health insurance tax credits are available to more people, and those already eligible may get even greater assistance. Under the expanded benefits program, three out of every five unemployed people qualify for health insurance that costs $0 monthly. Four out of five receive coverage for $10 or less.
Imagine you received unemployment benefits at any time in 2021. CMS will then encourage you to update your information on Healthcare.gov or complete a new application to determine if you are eligible for increased savings.
What Are the Most Affordable Health Insurance Options for Unemployed People?
Dr. Miller states that the health insurance with the lowest premiums is usually the best option. However, even though the cost of the policy may be lower, there are still deductibles and other costs to consider if you become ill or injured. The most affordable health coverage for unemployed people is usually through the state health insurance marketplace, or if you have a low income, Medicaid, or CHIP.
“When choosing an insurance plan, don’t just focus on the monthly premiums. Many insurance plans do not follow the federal regulations created by the Affordable Care Act. Many of these options exclude prescription drugs, maternity services, mental health, and substance abuse treatment, among other things,” says Dr. Miller.
Having explored various pathways to health insurance during unemployment, it is encouraging to realize that managing health coverage in Mobile, AL, despite job loss, is not an impossible challenge. You can protect yourself and your dependents from any health-related adversity during this uncertain phase using the tools and knowledge provided in this guide.
However, remember to weigh all the factors like coverage, premiums, deductibles, and unseen costs before opting for a plan. The most convenient option might often be state-provided health insurance, but each scenario is unique and deserves individual consideration.
In that regard, one powerful approach is to consider Medicare Supplement Plans when considering unemployment insurance. These plans provide various options to safeguard your health without putting undue strain on your limited resources.
Thus, make an informed and prudent choice now, as your health is an investment, not an expense. Take a step today towards a secure tomorrow by checking out Medicare Supplement Plans. Your future self will thank you.