How to Keep Your Health Insurance After You've Lost Your Job
Losing your job doesn’t mean that you’re out of options, at least when it comes to your health insurance. We get it. Unemployment is overwhelming. Everything is coming at you at once and you’re scrambling to figure out your next steps financially and emotionally. During this time, it can be easy for important things to fall by the wayside.
But there’s one thing that shouldn’t slip through the cracks – your health insurance. It’s always better to be covered just in case anything should happen. That’s why we’ve laid out all the options that are available to you when you’re in the midst of a career transition. Now, there’s one less thing to worry about.
Your employer plan
Chances are that you’re still covered by your previous employer’s health insurance. Your company took money out of your paycheck to pay for health insurance for the entire month, so legally you have the right to reap the benefits of your employer group coverage until that month ends.
If you want to keep the same coverage your employer group provided, you have the option of continuing it... at 100% of the premium price. It's an easy option, but a very expensive one. This coverage will normally last you about 18 months. We don’t recommend this, because you can find a comparable individual/family plan for a lot less.
An On-Exchange plan is a good place to find your next health insurance plan when your income is in flux. Based off of what you are projecting to make for the next month or even the remainder of the year, you could qualify to receive help from the government to pay for health insurance premiums, and even have lower healthcare service costs. It doesn't hurt to check to see if you qualify. But keep in mind that you have 60 days after your last day of employment to enroll.
This might be the route to go if your doctor only accepts Off-Exchange plans. Your premiums may be higher than the On-Exchange plans, but it might be worth it to you if it means that the level of care you’re used to isn’t affected. Just like an On-Exchange plan, you have 60 days after your last day of employment to enroll.
Medicaid = free healthcare! Every state is different in how they determine who is eligible, so make sure you check with your state to see if you qualify.
If you have a spouse that already has coverage through their employer or individually, joining them on their coverage might be the right option for you.
Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
If your income is too high for Medicaid but buying a plan Off-Exchange is too expensive, then CHIP is a good option. Also consider CHIP if your children lost coverage from your employer group plan. In some states, CHIP will also cover pregnant women.
Short Term Medical
Depending on where you live, you might be able to buy short term health insurance. The downfall is that Short Term Medical plans are not compliant with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and you will not receive the same essential health benefits that Long Term Medical plans provide. Keep in mind that you would also still have to pay the tax penalty.
We don’t advise doing this, but we understand that some people do choose this route. But keep in mind that going without means that you’re risking paying all medical costs out of pocket, along with a hefty tax penalty for not being covered.