Life Hacks

How to Find Health Insurance if You’re Underemployed or Unemployed

July 27, 2021

Unemployed and in need of health insurance? You’re not alone. In the first half of 2020, 43.4% of adults in the US were inadequately insured. Being in the middle of a national and global health crisis doesn’t make things easier, either. 

If you’re recently unemployed, it’s important to know what your options are, as you’re often able to qualify for a Special Enrollment Period for a Marketplace plan (meaning you can purchase premiums outside of the regular enrollment period). Here’s what else to know about finding health insurance if you’re underemployed or unemployed.

What to Do If You Lose Your Job-Based Health Insurance

First of all, we’re sorry to hear about your situation. It’s less than ideal, to say the least. But, we’re here to let you know that you’ve got options. First of all, we’d suggest checking with your employer when formalizing your exit or severance package (if there is one). Sometimes, you’re eligible to keep your health insurance for at least a few months after termination. If you had COBRA coverage, you’re likely eligible to keep it for up to 18 months after termination.

Other options include signing onto your spouse’s health care plan or purchasing a plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace. As mentioned above, if you’re terminated at your job, you’re eligible for a Special Enrollment Period, which means that you can sign up for premiums at any time of the year due to your current, special situation. In fact, your coverage can start the first day of the month after you lose your insurance.

What to Know About Marketplace Insurance

When filing an application for a health insurance plan via the Marketplace, you’ll be guided through a few questions that will help you understand what you qualify for and what your best options are. This includes:

  • If you qualify for savings on monthly premiums due to your current situation
  • What your out-of-pocket healthcare costs will be based on your current income
  • Whether or not you qualify for Medicaid or CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program).

If you’re not quite sure about Marketplace insurance, you can get a basic overview of 2021 plans and estimated prices depending on your zip code here. If you need help estimating your annual income, you can find a helpful guide here.

However, it’s important to note that the price of a Marketplace plan is based on your estimated income for the full calendar year you want coverage.

What About Medicaid?

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Who is eligible for Medicaid? According to the government, low-income families, qualified pregnant women and children, and individuals receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are all eligible for Medicaid. When assessing your financial eligibility, they’ll look at your Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI). 

What’s the income limit for Medicaid? It depends on how many people are in the household, but it ranges from about $2,500 to around $6,000. Single adult coverage ranges from roughly $1,800 to $4,500 if you’re currently pregnant and need health insurance.

Applying for Medicaid is an option if you’ve recently become unemployed or are underemployed and cannot pay the premiums for Marketplace health plans. You usually apply for Medicaid through your local state Medicaid agency. From there, you’ll be guided through the process regarding which types of documents you need to submit as proof of income and your overall financial situation.

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