Being unemployed can be tremendously stressful. This post is meant to give you some needed guidance when times are tough. First, if you’ve just recently become unemployed and had health insurance through your ex-employer, you may be able to continue it through COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986). COBRA allows you to keep the coverage you had while employed for a limited time. Sometimes the COBRA premiums can get expensive. Make sure to get the proper information from your ex-employer.
What to do if you can’t afford the health insurance premiums?
But what if you can’t afford the COBRA premiums or any other health care insurance premiums? Well, it’s important for you to know that it is now mandatory that you have a health insurance plan. Not having one can cost you a penalty. The Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare became a law on March 23, 2010. Its purpose was to revamp the healthcare system and make it affordable for everyone to have health coverage. As a result of the law, every state now has its own marketplace. At your marketplace’s website you can enroll in a plan and also determine if you qualify for any financial assistance.
So what do you do to protect your health care when you’re not working? There are three ways you can take care of yourself and your family.
- Use Obamacare / Affordable Care Act also known as the marketplace. See if you can get your health insurance plan through your state’s marketplace website. Since your income status has dropped due to unemployment, you may qualify for tax credits on your monthly premium and also save money on your deductibles, copayments and other out-of-pocket costs related to your health care.
- This type of coverage helps people with limited incomes and when you’re unemployed you may be able to qualify.
- Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). If you have children, CHIP can help keep them covered. Depending on the state that you live in, CHIP may also be available for women that are pregnant.
Also, make sure to also check the availability of services that may be available in your state, county and city. Each of these governments has its own resources and requirements. There are some states whose governors refused to cooperate with the Affordable Care Act / Obamacare. You can expect those states to have higher premiums through the marketplace because less subsidies are available. And this extends to Medicaid as well. States who refused to comply with the Affordable Care Act / Obamacare may have different income thresholds for you to get help through Medicaid and therefore getting Medicaid coverage may be more difficult in these states than in others.
Finally, don’t forget that if you have a spouse, your spouse’s health insurance may you and spouse and children. And as another resource, you can shop around through individual, private health insurance carriers but their rates may sometimes be quite pricey.
If you need help sorting all of this out and don’t currently have a health insurance agent that you work with, use 1800health.com to get a referral to an experienced and licensed agent.