June 21, 2021

How to Keep Health Insurance After Losing Your Job

Photo: Syda Productions (Shutterstock) One of the worst problems of losing your job is having…

Illustration for article titled How to Keep Health Insurance After Losing Your Job

Photo: Syda Productions (Shutterstock)

One of the worst problems of losing your job is having to deal with finding healthcare coverage. Fortunately, you have some options, although there are trade-offs with quality and price. Here’s a look at what you can do.

Option 1: How to sign up for an Obamacare health plan

A bronze plan may have high deductibles for medical services, but they will protect you from unexpected high-cost scenarios that can ruin you financially. Even though it’s the lowest-tier plan, it can cost a lot, between $200-400 a month; however, the good news is that people with incomes up to 600% of the poverty level (up to $76,560 for a single person) can qualify for a subsidy that either covers all or part of the cost of your monthly premium. This calculator will help you figure out an estimate.

To purchase a plan, start on healthcare.gov, even if you live in one of the states that has set up their own exchange. Click “get coverage,” select your state, and it’ll will direct you to proper place.

Option 2: How to sign up for COBRA coverage

If you liked the coverage you already received from your now-former employer, you can stay on that plan by enrolling in the federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act program, better known as COBRA.

The program lets you stay on your employer’s health insurance plan for up to 18 months after your job ends. However, it comes with a catch—you have to pay the full premium yourself, plus a small administrative fee. That could cost you hundreds of dollars, as employers pay for about 80% of your premiums, which is a steep price for most people to pay.

To sign up, your employer or health insurance company should send you a notice of eligibility after your job ends. If you expected one but haven’t received it yet, reach out to either your company’s HR department or the health insurer directly. Once you receive notice of your eligibility for COBRA, though, you will need to sign up within 60 days.

Option 3: How to join a family member’s plan

As losing your insurance is a qualifying event, you have 30 days from end of your insurance to enroll in a spouse or family member’s plan. This might even be a better option than the ones listed above, depending on the cost and comprehensiveness of your family member’s insurance. If it turns out great, you might want to stay on someone else’s insurance plan even after you start a new job.

Option 4: How to apply for Medicaid coverage 

Medicaid is government-run health coverage meant for people with limited incomes (usually less than $2,382, for 2021). Unlike Obamacare plans—which are serviced by private companies—patients usually don’t pay the costs for covered medical expenses, and in some cases includes retroactive coverage. The plans vary by state, however—you’ll have to use this Healthcare.gov calculator to see if you qualify.