Enhance Health

How To Get Health Insurance Without A Job

While most of the US population has employment-based health insurance, you don’t have to give up health insurance if you lose your work or are unemployed.

If you are a healthy adult, you may feel that health insurance is unnecessary, especially in financially trying times. But being without health insurance is never a good idea.

Serious illnesses or accidents happen unexpectedly. These can add up to thousands of dollars and can have severe financial repercussions if you don’t have insurance. 

If you need to know how to get health insurance without a job, read on to find out about your options. 

How To Get Health Insurance If You’re Unemployed: Six Options

Your household size and income determine your eligibility for health insurance – not your employment status. So, there are several options for affordable health insurance for the unemployed. 

Medicaid, Medicare, And CHIP

Medicaid, Medicare, and CHIP are federal programs, and their eligibility depends on your age and situation.


Medicaid provides low-cost health coverage for individuals of all ages, families, pregnant women, and people with disabilities. 


Eligibility for Medicaid is based on monthly income. Your income and assets must be below your state’s maximum income limit to qualify. The exact terms of Medicaid vary from state to state.

Medicaid revises its guidelines every year so it’s a good idea to check them every now and then to see if you meet the requirements. 

Because eligibility is based on monthly income, a short-term decline in revenue could make you eligible for Medicaid for those months.

Collecting unemployment benefits may impact your eligibility. However, federal unemployment insurance should not count toward your income when determining if you qualify. 


Medicare is administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). You may qualify for Medicare if you have received Social Security disability benefits for two years or more or are over 65 years old. 

Medicare also covers two specific conditions: 

  1. End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD)
  2. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease)


Medicare coverage splits into the following parts:

  • Part A, which covers hospital costs
  • Part B, which covers medical expenses
  • Part C, which covers everything in Part A, B, and D
  • Part D, which covers prescription drugs 


Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a federal program administered at the state level. It’s for families who earn above the income level that qualifies for Medicaid but not enough to afford a health care policy. 

The program’s cost and specifics of coverage vary from state to state. However, the health coverage for children is comprehensive and includes emergency services, immunizations, and dental and eye care.


Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) is a federal law. It allows employees to remain on employer-sponsored group health plans for a limited time after their employment ends. You’ll be able to stay on your healthcare plan for 18 months after leaving your job. 

Only some previously employed qualify to receive COBRA benefits. Qualifying events include reduced work hours and employment termination, except for gross misconduct. 

COBRA also accommodates college students who need to stay on their parent’s health plans while studying.

Most unemployed people find COBRA too expensive as you’ll need to pay the premium yourself. The employer subsidies fall away when employment is terminated.

ACA Insurance

The Affordable Care Act makes affordable health insurance available to more people. 

Households with income between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level (FPL) are provided subsidies that lower health insurance costs. Commonly known as free Obamacare, most people can select plans with no premiums.

After losing your job, you can access the federal or state marketplace within a particular enrollment period. 

Subsidies are calculated on annual income. So, if you earn a good living and are only recently out of work, you may not qualify. Plus, state unemployment benefits are counted when applying for subsidies on the marketplace.

Short-Term Health Insurance

A short-term health insurance plan is a limited health insurance that generally provides coverage for thirty to ninety days.

The objective of short-term health insurance is to cover emergencies and brief lapses in coverage. 

You can use limited health insurance if your loss of employment does not qualify you for a particular enrollment period under the ACA. 

It can also work for people who want to have minimal coverage while considering their insurance choices. It may be a suitable plan to bridge a gap in coverage until open enrollment for ACA plans begins.

This type of plan does not meet ACA rules for minimum essential coverage, so you will not qualify for a subsidy on this plan. 

Short-term health insurance is also limited because it does not cover pre-existing medical problems. In addition, it does not cover maternity care or drug treatments, including prescription drugs.

Individual Private Health Insurance

Another option is to get a policy through a broker or directly from a non-government health insurance company. 

Private health insurance companies sell medical insurance for the unemployed year-round. If you do not meet the criteria to buy insurance during the ACA enrollment period or missed the enrollment period after losing your job, private health insurance may be a solution. 

Although there may be ACA-compliant plans available through health insurance companies, there is no obligation for private insurance policies to meet the ACA requirements. 

While some of these policies may be affordable, they do not offer all of the ten essential health benefit protections covered in all ACA plans.

Join A Family Member’s Plan

A family member can add you to their plan if you qualify for inclusion. Insured parties can add dependents, including relatives, to their health insurance plan. 

Plans allow people to add a spouse up to sixty days after marriage as well as children under the age of twenty-six to an existing plan. 


Choosing the right healthcare plan can feel overwhelming, especially when dealing with unemployment. However, there are plenty of options to look into.  

If you need help understanding the fine print and choosing the best plan for your needs, get in touch with us. Enhance Health can help you find coverage that fits your needs. 

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