How to have Health Coverage When You are Out of the Job?

Health Coverage when you are out of the Job

The numbers of Americans filing for unemployment benefits not only lost jobs but also their health insurance. If you are among them, advice on how to get a health insurance coverage after a job loss is discussed. Tragically, up to 35 million could lose their health insurance in the coming weeks due to repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic. This data is according to a new study by a health care research and consulting firm, Health Management Associates.

Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA)

If you recently lost health coverage and you are out of a job, you can typically continue enrollment under a federal law known as COBRA. It requires firms with at least 20 employees to offer this option. You have up to 60 days to elect COBRA and pay the first premium within 45 days. The premiums are something like $600 a month per person or more. Covering the period dating back to your coverage loss that can be sticker shock, when you’re financially stressed already. 

Typically, an employer picks up close to 80 percent of the employee’s premium. You pay the entire cost of the premium, plus up to a 2 percent administration fee. This will be the most expensive option if you are already in treatment for an ongoing condition. It may be worthwhile, not restart your deductible and keep access to the same doctors who are treating you today.”


If you now have a low income and need health insurance, Medicaid is a good place to start. It has a long history in 37 states and Washington, D.C. Medicaid offers free, comprehensive health coverage when you are out of a job. Especially, people whose income has dropped below 138 percent of the federal poverty line. That’s about $1,467 for a single person or $1,982 per month for a couple. In some states, adults with higher incomes may qualify. 

According to law, in 14 states, low-income adults generally can’t get Medicaid unless they are over 65 or disabled. If you qualify, you can apply anytime as nearly all hospitals accept Medicaid. Doctor participation rates vary in most states, where health coverage is delivered by managed care plans.

Care Act Marketplace

Normally, enrollment for health coverage when you are out of the job is limited to the short window for Open Enrollment. In the Affordable Care Act Marketplace during the winter each year. But there’s an exception for people who have lost their jobs under the Special Enrollment Period. This caveat allows them to apply because their layoff meant a loss of health insurance.

You usually must enroll within 60 days when coverage stopped and prove that you lost your health insurance. In the marketplace, eligibility for subsidies is based on your projected annual income for 2020. If your total annual income will be between $12,490 and $49,960 for a single person, you can qualify for subsidies. Unemployment benefits count toward income $16,910 and $67,640 for a couple; up to $103,000 for a family of four.