Finding health insurance when it’s not being offered through an employer is difficult. Finding and paying for health insurance for unemployed individuals is even harder. There are options, but you don’t have much money to pay for it because you aren’t working. This adds to the burden of unemployment as a whole.
Going without insurance isn’t a good option, especially if you have a family. One small emergency can cost you thousands of dollars without insurance. What would happen if you don’t have insurance and you fall into a big medical emergency? It could be a debilitating blow to your finances and your life.
Health Insurance for the Unemployed
If you’ve recently voluntarily or involuntarily lost your job, have had a reduction in hours bringing you to part time and causing you to lose your insurance, are between jobs, or have other life events that have interrupted your employee health insurance, one option is COBRA. COBRA stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. This act allows you to continue group health insurance from your previous employer when it would otherwise have been lost.
You will be able to continue your health insurance at the group rate, however, it still may cost more. Oftentimes employers pay for part of the health insurance and have the employee pay a small fraction. If you continue coverage, you will have to pay the whole premium. Still, it is likely cheaper than getting your own individual health insurance policy.
To be eligible for COBRA, you must have been enrolled in a group health plan of a private sector company with 20 or more employees, employee organizations, and governments on both the state and local level. To learn more about COBRA and if you’re eligible, click here.
Losing COBRA and Finding Better Options
COBRA can be very expensive and it only lasts for 18 months. What happens when you lose this option, or if it’s too expensive for you? Hopefully you can find another job within 18 months, but if you don’t, there are other options. First of all, ensure that your insurance coverage doesn’t laps. Even if you use COBRA only for a month or two, it’s worth it to stay covered, especially if you have a preexisting health condition.
Adult Children Coverage
If you are under age 26 and you live with your parents, you can be insured under your parents plan. You don’t have to be enrolled in college either. This is a good option, especially if your parents already have a family plan, as it shouldn’t raise premiums for them.
Individual Health Insurance
Purchasing your own individual health insurance is still an option and may be less expensive than COBRA. If you get a plan with inferior coverage, you’ll still be covered, albeit not as well, but it may cost you much less.
Self Employed Group Health Insurance
Have you decided to go into business for yourself? If you’ve lost your insurance and are now working for yourself, you have more options beyond individual plans. Look for group plans for the self-employed in your area. You can often find unions or other groups that give lower rates because it is a group plan. If you can’t find one, find like-minded self-employed individuals and work to set one up.