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How to Maintain Health Insurance While Unemployed

How to Maintain Health Insurance While UnemployedThrough the Health Insurance Marketplace, you can get affordable medical coverage even if you lose your job and no longer qualify for an employer-sponsored plan. Several different types of Marketplace plans are available to you depending on your budget and medical needs.

When applying for affordable health insurance plans through the Marketplace, you will also find out whether you qualify for additional cost savings, such as lower monthly premiums and out-of-pocket expenses. However, your eligibility for these costs savings varies depending on your household income. 

As another option, Cobra insurance coverage is available to you for a limited period of time if you lose your job-based medical plan.

After your COBRA benefits end, you may choose to switch to a Marketplace plan. You will not need to wait until an Open Enrollment Period to purchase a Marketplace plan after your COBRA coverage ends.

To learn more about the different types of insurance options that may be available to you after you lose your job, review the information below.

How to Get Marketplace Health Insurance Coverage

If you lose your job, the Health Insurance Marketplace provides you with the option to purchase an affordable medical plan outside of the annual Open Enrollment Period, even if you quit your job or your employer fires you.

Therefore, you can enroll in a Marketplace plan as soon as you lose your job without needing to wait until the next Open Enrollment Period in November. After losing your job and enrolling in a Marketplace health plan, your medical coverage can begin as early as the first day of the following month.

When obtaining affordable health insurance through the Marketplace, your household income may qualify you for savings on your out-of-pocket expenses and monthly premiums. However, you must complete a Marketplace application to find out which savings you may qualify for.

Before applying, gather the following information:

  • The Social Security Numbers (SSNs) of anyone in your family who wishes to receive medical coverage
  • The income, employment and tax information of each household member
  • The policy numbers of your current health insurance plan
  • Information about any employer-sponsored medical plans that may be available to you

To apply for affordable medical insurance through the Marketplace, you may choose to submit your application online, through a Marketplace-registered broker or by mailing a paper application to the address noted at the bottom of this section.

You may also apply through an enrollment partner’s website if you prefer to do so. Blue Cross Blue Shield is just one insurance company that serves as a certified Marketplace enrollment partner. 

When enrolling in a Marketplace medical insurance plan, you may need to prove that you lost your employer-sponsored health coverage. If you are required to do so, your Marketplace eligibility notice will provide you with specific instructions for verifying the loss of your employer-sponsored plan.

In some cases, a Marketplace representative may contact you directly to discuss the requirements you must meet.

Health Insurance Marketplace

Dept. of Health and Human Services

465 Industrial Blvd.

London, KY 40750-0001

Learn About Marketplace Health Insurance Coverage Options

The Health Insurance Marketplace sells several different types of plans, depending on your budget and medical needs. Additionally, four “metal” categories are available to choose from when selecting a medical plan, including Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum categories.

Platinum insurance plans require you to pay a higher monthly premium, but your deductibles will be lower. Bronze plans require you to pay lower monthly premiums but higher deductibles.

Learn About COBRA Insurance Coverage

Under federal law, COBRA health insurance coverage may be available to you for a limited period if you lose your job and employer-sponsored medical plan. Also known as the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, or COBRA continuation coverage, this health insurance option may allow you to remain on your current medical plan for a designated period of time.

In most cases, you can continue your medical coverage under COBRA for 18 or 36 months, unless you qualify for an extension. However, you will need to pay the full amount of your insurance premium in addition to a nominal administrative fee.

To determine whether you qualify for COBRA medical insurance after losing your job, contact your employer as soon as possible to learn more about the options that may be available to you.

Typically, you will qualify for COBRA continuation coverage if you meet the following criteria:

  • Your employer-sponsored health plan is covered by COBRA
  • A qualifying event resulted in the loss of your job
  • You are a qualified beneficiary of the health insurance plan, such as the covered employee, the current or former spouse of a covered employee or the covered employee’s dependent child

Note: To qualify for Cobra insurance, the covered employee must have lost his or her job for a reason that did not involve gross misconduct. For instance, qualifying reasons may include the loss of hours worked, a divorce between the covered employee and his or her spouse or the death of the covered employee.

Do I qualify for Medicaid if I lose my job?

You may qualify for free healthcare or reduced-fee medical coverage through Medicaid if you meet financial restrictions based on the size of your household. Your household income is used to determine your eligibility for Medicaid, rather than your employment status.

However, specific eligibility requirements vary depending on the state in which you live, and some status may require you to meet additional eligibility requirements.

If you reside in a two-person household in the state of Florida, for instance, your annual household income must not exceed $22,491.

Depending on your situation, you may also qualify for low-cost medical coverage through Medicaid if you are pregnant, elderly, have children or hold a disability, even if you do not meet your state’s standard income restrictions.

Moreover, you must complete a Health Insurance Marketplace application to determine whether you qualify for free- or- low-cost medical coverage through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Alternatively, you may apply directly through your state’s Medicaid Agency.

If you do qualify for Medicaid or CHIP, you may enroll in either program at any time of the year. You do not need to wait until an Open Enrollment Period to do so.