Claire Smith Last Updated On: August 1, 2023

A Guide to Affordable Health Insurance for Unemployed Individuals

We’ve all been through some tough times, however, being without health insurance in those times should simply not be an option. There’s nothing more stressful than being unemployed and being without health insurance—and this stress is compounded if you have dependents who rely on you. Not only are you between jobs, but you also have the hassle of trying to figure out what you’re going to do about health insurance.

ConsumerCoverage is here to help get you covered, even during those tough times. Our insurance partners want to help and have come together in our Consumer Marketplace to compete for your business. Take a few minutes and complete our form. We’ll then connect you with an agent that provides you with a free quote. Unemployed or not, We’ve Got You Covered!

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Table of Contents

How To Get Health Insurance While Unemployed?

If you’re unemployed and without health insurance coverage, here are some of the ways you can mitigate the worry of not having a plan.
  • If you know you’re being let go, find out when your coverage will terminate — immediately, end of the month, etc.
  • Act swiftly. As soon as you find yourself unemployed, you have a 60-day window to capitalize on government-run Marketplace Special Enrollment Period health insurance.
  • If you’re overwhelmed or need assistance, call a private insurance company and speak with a qualified agent about your options.
  • Decide if you’d like to continue the employer-sponsored health insurance with COBRA insurance.
  • If you exceed the 60-day window, don’t panic; you still have various health insurance options—and we’re going to cover them next.

Health Insurance Options For The Unemployed

Don’t let the worry of not having a job or health insurance eat away at you. Here are the most popular health insurance avenues for people who find themselves without a job.
  • Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). If you lose your job or your hours get cut, you’re eligible for COBRA insurance, which is the continuation of your former employer-sponsored health insurance. These are the important facts to know about COBRA coverage:
    • This insurance is available for companies with over 20 people.
    • You can elect to continue your health insurance; however, you’ll pay both the employer and employee portion, so it’s costly.
    • Spouses and dependents remain covered; however, coverage is limited to health care, not a disability or life insurance.
    • You can remain on COBRA for up to 18 months.
  • Spouse or Parent’s Employer Coverage. If you’re fortunate enough that your spouse has health insurance, you can get added to their coverage; just get them to check with HR first. Along the same line, if you’re under the age of 26, you can get added to your parent’s health insurance plan.
  • Special Enrollment Period (SEP) Marketplace. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, if you lose your job, you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period insurance through Marketplace; but you have to act quickly as you only have 60-days.
There are plenty of benefits associated with getting Marketplace health insurance, such as:
    • SEP runs from February 15th to May 15th
    • Since Marketplace insurance Plans are government-funded, you’re entitled to premium tax credits or cost-sharing
    • Marketplace Plans are metallically tiered (bronze, silver, gold, and platinum) and range in cost, out-of-pocket exposure, and services they cover varies
    • Medicaid. One of the primary requirements for Medicaid is your current income, which is helpful to those that are unemployed since the limits are low. And since the healthcare reform in 2010, eligibility has expanded in most states, making it easier for those in need to access health insurance. These are some of the key takeaways about Medicaid:
      • Offers free or low-cost health care 
      • Provides ACA-compliant coverage
      • You have to meet state requirements to be eligible
      • Even if you aren’t eligible, your children will qualify for CHIP
    • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Even if you don’t qualify for Medicaid, your children under the age of 19 are eligible for CHIP. Like Medicaid, CHIP is a low-cost health insurance plan that provides comprehensive health insurance, like routine check-ups to children.
    • Catastrophic Health Insurance. If you want very low-cost premiums, catastrophic health insurance is the cheapest plan offered on the Marketplace—it’s even cheaper than bronze plans. These plans don’t offer further tax rebates to reduce premiums, and the deductibles are much higher. To qualify for catastrophic insurance, you need to be under 30 or eligible for a hardship exemption—and yes, unemployment counts as a hardship.
    • Short-Term Health Insurance. Short-term health insurance is temporary coverage and only allowed for 364 days in most states. This is what you should know about short-term insurance:
      • You can get it anytime
      • Not ACA-compliant, meaning certain essential benefits may not be covered
      • Low premiums
      • Costly out-of-pocket fees 
      • May exclude those with pre-existing health conditions like diabetes
    • Medicare. For unemployed individuals 65+ or for those on disability (for over 24 months), you can always turn to Medicare to satisfy your health insurance needs. Medicare is broken down into Part A (hospital visits), Part B (medical costs), Part D (prescription drug coverage), and Part C or “Medicare Advantage” which bundles Part A, B, and D. Medicare also offers money-saving options to reduce your premiums.
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Most Affordable Unemployed Health Insurance

If you’re unemployed and looking for affordable health insurance, there are many different ways to save money. Here are some of the best tips and tricks:
  • Fill out an application for Marketplace to determine if you’re eligible for Medicaid, CHIP or Catastrophic coverage and which subsidies you qualify for to drive down the cost of your premiums.
  • Connect with a qualified private insurance agent to explore which low-cost health insurance options you’re eligible for, like short-term coverage.
  • Utilize health insurance that’s available to you, like your spouse’s coverage.
  • Look into cost-saving opportunities with Medicare as Plan A and Plan B are eligible for low-cost coverage options if you qualify.

Getting Health Insurance While You’re Unemployed

If you’re unemployed and find yourself without health insurance, you have plenty of options available to you—some with tremendous premium savings—so that while you’re looking for a new job, you have one less thing to worry about.

Whatever you do, don’t go uninsured. Not only will being uninsured mean that you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket for medical expenses, but by not meeting the state minimum for health insurance, you’ll have to pay a tax penalty.

What’s the Best Health Insurance for Unemployed People?

The best health insurance for the unemployed will depend on your unique situation, your coverage needs, and your budget. Your most cost-effective options are to join someone else’s plan if eligible, to find a new plan on the Marketplace, or to see if you qualify for Medicaid. However, short-term health insurance and COBRA are great for getting you through a difficult time without losing coverage, even though they’re more expensive.

No matter what you do for unemployed health insurance, make sure to compare multiple plans and quotes to find the best option for you. ConsumerCoverage can help by comparing thousands of quotes and finding the very best health insurance option, all with the click of a button.

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Unfortunately, there is no one health insurance option that’s best for all. The best thing you can do if you need guidance is to reach out to a health insurance agent either through private insurance brokers or the government-sponsored Marketplace, as these agents can help you select the right coverage.

The health insurance with the cheapest premiums is short-term or catastrophic coverage. Just be advised that with cheap premiums comes higher deductibles and more out-of-pocket costs.



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