Are you newly unemployed?
You’re not alone. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, nearly 30 million Americans lost their jobs during the first half of 2020.
There’s some good news, though.
One, you’re probably eligible for unemployment benefits. Depending on where you live, you could receive insurance payments for up to 30 weeks. So, you’ll have at least some cash to support you while you look for a new job.
The other good thing is that there are lots of affordable or free health insurance options. If you lost your insurance when you were let go, you’ll still be able to see your doctors and receive medical treatment.
Need to find affordable health insurance because you lost your job? Here are a few options:
1. Look Into COBRA
Under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, or COBRA, you have the right to retain your employer-sponsored healthcare plan for 18 months after you lose your job.
However, your employer is not required to pay for your health insurance.
In other words, you can stay on the same healthcare plan you’ve been on, but you’ll have to pay for it.
And if you’re receiving unemployment benefits through the state, you might not be able to afford the premiums.
If you have a lot of savings or earn a lot through other income streams, however, COBRA could be a great program for you.
2. Get Insurance Through Your Spouse’s Job
Employer-sponsored healthcare plans usually cover the employee and their spouse, plus any dependents. This means that you and your kids, if you have any, can get coverage through your spouse’s job.
Now, if you’re lucky enough to have this option, you probably already know about it. But, maybe you and your spouse were on your insurance because it was a better plan.
Whatever the case, have your spouse talk to their HR department. You should be fully covered in no time.
3. Apply for Free Health Insurance Through the Government
As an unemployed person, you likely qualify for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. You could be eligible for discounted, or even free, healthcare coverage.
Even better, if you just lost your employer-sponsored coverage, you qualify for a special enrollment period. This allows you to get health insurance immediately. All you have to do is prove that you lost your job and have no other income (including tax dividend payments, money from real estate, etc.), and you’ll get coverage almost immediately.
Now, you only have 60 days to qualify for special enrollment. So if you lost your job within the past few weeks, you should apply ASAP to learn about your options.
BONUS: Join a Healthshare Program
Healthshare programs are a new type of insurance provider. They’re similar to traditional insurers in that you pay them a monthly premium and, in exchange, they cover your bills (or at least a portion of your bills) when you seek medical treatment.
However, healthshare programs differ from traditional insurance companies in a few key ways:
1. They Typically Charge Less for Insurance
Most healthshare insurance plans cost a lot less than traditional plans. This makes them popular with self-employed folks with unpredictable incomes and unemployed people who depend on passive income.
2. They Only Cover Healthy, Low-Risk People
Healthshare programs can charge less money because they only cover low-risk patients. They don’t need as big of a money pool because, by covering only healthy patients, they’re likely to spend less.
To enroll in one of these programs, you’ll have to get a checkup and prove to the provider that you’re healthy.
So, if you’re in good shape and don’t plan on visiting the doctor very often, this could be a good option for you. But if you have a history of health problems or take prescriptions every month, one of the other options above might work better.
As you can see, there are plenty of health coverage options for unemployed people. You can still see a doctor or dentist or visit the hospital, even if you don’t have a job right now.
So don’t fret. With unemployment benefits coming in and your health covered by insurance, you’ll be okay until you get back on your feet. Keep your head up!