The biggest concern of unemployed workers, along with income loss, is the loss of health insurance. COVID-19 has exposed this reality with millions of people at the risk of losing employer-sponsored insurance. During Feb-May, more than 5.4 million laid-off workers became uninsured. Health is the absolute necessity of every individual; otherwise, a regular visit or follow-up test may cost you thousands of dollars.
If you’re unemployed and looking for viable healthcare plans, we have compiled a detailed guideline on what options you have and how to avail of healthcare plan while you’re unemployed.
Starting with company-provided health insurance, even if you’re laid off, the employer is bound to review the benefits you’re entitled to. Ask your employer about your eligibility criteria under the federal law, COBRA.
According to this law, a company with more than 20 employees is mandated to provide healthcare coverage for at least 18 months after an employee is terminated or laid-off. This law applies to all the employees who lose their health insurance due to job loss. Putting it differently, you can continue to get medical coverage under the current plan, but you will have to continue paying for the coverage – and administrative fees.
Secondly, the Obamacare program or the Affordable Care Act allows an unemployed worker to get health insurance through the State’s Marketplace. Generally, you can apply for health insurance in the Marketplace during the Enrollment period, November to mid-December, but people losing jobs outside of this period are eligible for the Special Enrollment Period. It gives them a 60-day window to get a new healthcare plan.
Your health insurance options depend on your State, income status, and household size. Health insurance options vary from State to State. Some states allow individuals to apply through the federal Marketplace while others enroll them through a state-based marketplace. Before enrolling, get the required information from the state insurance department.
Some other viable options for unemployed workers are:
Individuals aged less than 26 years can stay on their parent’s healthcare plans.
Many colleges offer alumni temporary insurance in the State. So, do visit your college to get the required information.
If you’re a member of any union, organization, or club, you may qualify for short-term health insurance.
Check if you are eligible for Medicaid. It offers low-cost healthcare plans to people depending on their financial status. Generally, people with disabilities, low-income or unemployed, and pregnant women are qualified for Medicaid. Moreover, people receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) are eligible for this program.
Now, the last step is to know how to find a suitable healthcare plan if you’re unemployed.
First of all, talk with your employer about your ongoing healthcare program to get an idea about when it will end and what type of healthcare plan will suit you in the future.
Get ready all the information you need, such as social security numbers, income estimates, tax returns, to get a complete idea of which government subsidy programs you’re eligible for.
Start shopping for a new insurance plan as early as possible. Take your time, talk to broker or insurance experts, and opt the plan according to your medical needs and financial status. For instance, whether you need a high deductible or low deductible plan. You may choose a plan that doesn’t involve treatment facilities to lower monthly premium rates.
Getting insurance on time saves you from the federal government’s ‘penalty’ which is a payment/fine you pay if you don’t have insurance for a month. However, this program has various exemptions that depend on your financial status.
Explore all the options you have as an unemployed worker and maintain health coverage as soon as possible.
Our insurance experts are here to help. Please, reach out to one of them for additional questions.