Being unemployed is already a massive burden that millions of Americans face each day. The added pressure of going without health insurance can increase that hardship exponentially. It can put these individuals at potential risk of not just mounting health costs that would come out of pocket should something happen, but it exposes them to penalties at the end of the year if they fail to maintain coverage that meets the minimum essential coverage standard of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
If you are living without a job and have no discernible income, you do still have options for obtaining good health coverage under the new mandates. There are plans available on the ACA Marketplace that offer savings off premiums that are based around your household size and monthly income.
Finding a Plan
Your income is the main determinant of the type of plans that are available. You must first figure out your annual income. This can include everything that comes in such as your wages, any interest or payments you might gain on investments, and so on. Once you calculate how much you make in a year you may then apply for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace where your options will be laid out for you.
The first option is a plan through the Marketplace, where you may end up paying significantly reduced premiums if you qualify for any of a variety of tax credits and other savings programs. These credits, based on income-eligibility, can lower your costs for deductibles and co-payments among other out of pocket costs related to your coverage.
The second option is a Medicaid plan where you could be eligible due to limited or no income or physical disabilities. Medicaid may be available for individuals living below specific income levels that can vary from state to state. For families, there’s the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) which provides coverage for families with children and/or expectant mothers who don’t qualify for Medicaid because their income is too high to qualify for Medicaid yet too low to afford private insurance.
If you are still looking for coverage but one of these options doesn’t quite work, then you still have some alternatives that are available. Some of them may only be valid dependent upon the reason you are currently out of work. If you are dealing with a disability or healing from an injury of some kind that happened on the job, you could be covered under the Workers Compensation program in your state.
Perhaps you have just lost your job and are newly unemployed, losing your employer-issued coverage in the process. In this case, you may want to look into the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), especially if you are undergoing medical treatments at this time and you need some coverage to continue those treatments. COBRA isn’t always the least expensive option out there, so just be warned that you may find better prices on your premiums through other plans.