How Do I Get Health Insurance if I Lose My Job?
There are many ways to get health insurance if you lose your job. The first is COBRA, which allows you to keep your same insurance plan but can be expensive. Becoming unemployed also qualifies you for a special enrollment period, which means you can purchase any new insurance policy for up to 60 days after you lose your job. In some states, short-term health coverage is an affordable option that can keep you insured for up to a year while you look for new work.
What Is COBRA Insurance and Is It Worth It?
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, commonly known as COBRA, is a federally mandated program through which you can retain your employer’s policy for up to 18 months. If you do elect COBRA coverage, be prepared to pay significantly higher monthly premiums; you’ll be required to cover the amount your employer was contributing plus a 2% administration fee. Oftentimes COBRA isn’t worth it, as most unemployed individuals can find a much more affordable policy on the marketplace.
What Is the Cheapest Health Insurance?
Short-term and catastrophic coverage plans are usually the cheapest health insurance options for anyone who has recently lost their job. However, there are downsides to both. Short-term coverage only lasts for up to one year and is banned or restricted in some states. You’ll need to be under 30 years old or meet low-income requirements to qualify for catastrophic coverage, and even if you do, those low premiums come at the expense of extremely high deductibles.
What Do You Do If You Don’t Have Health Insurance?
If you find yourself without health insurance and need medical attention, you should be prepared to pay full out-of-pocket costs for any treatment you receive. In case of an emergency, U.S. law prohibits hospitals from refusing treatment due to your financial situation. However, if you are truly unable to afford coverage, you should see if you qualify for insurance through Medicaid. Those who don’t meet Medicaid requirements should at least consider purchasing a low-cost catastrophic plan to protect you financially in case of serious injury or illness.
How We Chose the Best Health Insurance for the Unemployed
Our analysis looked at 30 health insurers nationwide to identify the best companies based on the benefits they offer to those facing unemployment. We chose insurers with widespread geographic representation who provide flexible policies geared toward individuals with short-term insurance needs. Since financial strain is a main concern during periods of unemployment, we weighed policy pricing heavily by comparing quotes from five sample markets. Finally, we evaluated accessibility to care, including the number of in-network providers and the availability of telehealth services.