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Health Insurance for the Unemployed

As of June 2020 the standing unemployment rate sat at an all time high of 14.7%. Which essentially translates to a whopping 53.5 million Americans without any employment.

Aside from the obvious concerns of having a lack of income that can bring stress, anxiety and even poor health upon you, the last thing you will want to have to worry about is securing access to healthcare.

Healthcare insurance is vital part of leading a healthy lifestyle. There are ways in which you can access healthcare whilst being unemployed, this article will outline the options you might be eligible for.

1. COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act)

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation (COBRA) Act is essentially a law that helps ensure that you can continue with your current healthcare coverage even after termination of your employment.

This coverage usually lasts for a limited time after termination of your contact. The COBRA Act actually entails that all employers, outside of federal government employment, with 20 or more employees make sure that COBRA coverage is offered to employees that qualify.

If you want to know whether you are eligible for COBRA coverage you will have to check whether you fit these following “qualifying events”:

  • You will have to have been insured or covered by your employer’s group insurance or health plan.
  • You are the spouse or ex-spouse of someone who qualifies for COBRA coverage.
  • You would need to have been put in a position that results in you not being able to be covered by the group health plan or insurance provided by your employer. This could be because your hours have been reduced, your employment contract has been terminated or you have retired.                   

However if your situation does not fall clearly into these events detailed above, you should contact your company’s Human Resources department and inquire.

How exactly does COBRA cover work?

As mentioned above, if you are employment is terminated then you should have the option to extend your current healthcare coverage. Whilst the COBRA coverage should be detailed in your health care plan, your employer should inform you of your coverage too.

From the start of your official termination of contract you will have a period of 60 days to decide as to whether you would like to extend your coverage. COBRA coverage can last anywhere from 18-36 months and is dependent on timeous payments of your premiums.

COBRA coverage is advantageous in that it allows you to maintain your current healthcare, such as your current doctors that you visit, and your overall options.

Keeping in mind though that you will have to subsidise the premium costs that were previously included in your pay check by your employer.

2. Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program

Medicaid is a program that serves to provide healthcare to low-income individuals, children, pregnant women, disabled and elderly people.

It’s a state and federally funded program that runs in every state differing according to its location. Within Medicaid there are a number of programs that you could be eligible, all based on the financial requirements.

Your eligibility for these programs will depend on your financial situation and how it lines up with the programs requirements. In order to check your eligibility you should contact your local Medicaid office.

The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is one of these programs made available by Medicaid. CHIP serves to offer low-income families with health coverage for their children and women that are expecting.

This health coverage program also serves to bridge a gap that might be experienced by families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to afford private healthcare insurance.

How do you know if your child is eligible?

Again the requirements for eligibility for the Children’s Health Insurance Program differ from state to state, however the application process is very simple.

Applications will accepted all year long simultaneously with any Medicaid application. This makes checking your eligibility much easier.

If your child is eligible for CHIP they will have access to the following services;

  • Routine Check ups
  • Emergency Services
  • Doctor Visits
  • Immunisations
  • Hospital Care (both in and out patient)
  • Dental Care
  • Optometrist visits
  • Prescriptions

However its important to check with your state’s office to ensure what services are available to your child.

Some benefits could be entirely free, however you may have to make co-payments with some services.

3. The Health Insurance Marketplace

The Health Insurance Marketplace is a virtual marketplace where individuals can “shop” or research for healthcare insurance coverage plans.

The Health Insurance Marketplace allows individuals to find plans that suit your financial eligibility, while also finding out all your available options. This virtual Marketplace allows only ACA (Affordable Care Act) compliant healthcare plans to be listed.

The Affordable Care Act helps to ensure that healthcare prices are government regulated and standardized. The Health Insurance Marketplace is run by the federal government however there are privately run health insurance marketplaces that you can enroll in.

So in layman’s terms the Federally Run health Insurance Marketplace is a one stop shop where Americans and shop for healthcare coverage and insurance plans in a fully informed manner.

How does it work?

The simplicity of using the Health Insurance Marketplace is the application process. Filling in an application for this virtual marketplace is as simple as applying once, and allowing the marketplace to do the work for you.

The system will automatically match you with all the appropriate options to your financial eligibility. In order to apply you’ll have to access the healthcare screener online and check whether you can enrol in your local state, or the country wide marketplace.

Using the health insurance marketplace helps to adjust your healthcare costs if you have become unemployed and can no longer afford the current plan you are enrolled in.

With these above options for you, it is possible to make sure that your health is covered entirely despite not being employed.