In 2021, 48.5% of Americans relied on their employer for health insurance, meaning that many Americans would likely be without coverage if they lost their job. This is a tremendous financial stress, as paying for medical care without insurance is prohibitively expensive.
Dealing with substantial medical bills is awful at the best of times but is infinitely worse when you have just lost your job. We’re here to help you understand your health insurance options after job loss.
Crunching The Numbers: Health Insurance Costs And Your Budget
Securing health insurance can be challenging when you’re on a tight budget. However, going without insurance can be financially devastating when facing medical expenses in the United States, where healthcare costs are the highest globally.
Understanding your health insurance options is crucial, especially when finances are tight, to prevent the risk of being unable to handle unexpected medical emergencies. For instance, a surgery without insurance could cost you a staggering $170,000.
Contrary to the common belief that all insurance plans are costly, numerous affordable options are available. Enhance Health specializes in helping you discover budget-friendly plans, even for low-income and no-income households.
By addressing your healthcare needs now, you can prevent health issues from worsening, ultimately saving on the escalating treatment costs. This underscores the importance of having a health insurance plan, even when money is tight.
Your Guide To Health Insurance Options After Job Loss
So, if you have lost your job and, therefore, your insurance, what are your options? Here is an overview of the top choices.
COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) offers a way to keep your existing plan when you lose your job, even if you quit. COBRA allows you to stay on the same plan, but you take over the total cost of premiums plus an administrative fee.
- You keep your existing medical care providers
- Coverage lasts for 18 months after losing your job
- Your out-of-pocket costs are still counted
- Premiums are often unaffordable after job loss
- Network coverage may change when you switch from an employer-sponsored plan to an individual plan, even with the same insurance company
Typically, you can only enroll in the ACA (Affordable Care Act) marketplace in the Open Enrollment Period, generally from November 1st to December 15th. However, there is a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) in certain situations.
For job loss, your SEP can run from 60 days before to 60 days after your current plan ends. If you enroll for ACA insurance before your coverage ends, your new plan will start on the 1st of the month, and you won’t have a coverage gap.
- Affordable way to access insurance
- Different tiers (Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum) provide increased coverage
- All ACA-compliant plans cover specific preventative health care without copayment or coinsurance
- May not qualify for subsidies based on yearly income, even if current income is low or zero
- Your out-of-pocket costs reset to $0, meaning you will have to contribute the entire deductible, regardless of how much you have paid on your previous plan
Short-term Health Plans
Short-term health plans can be cheaper, but they have some limitations. Firstly, they do not need to comply with the ACA, meaning certain expenses may not be covered. Secondly, they are designed to be used only for a few months.
- An excellent way to get coverage if there is a gap between your previous insurance and a new one
- Can fill the gap if you need to wait for the Open Enrollment Period (OEP) of a marketplace plan
- Not required to be ACA-compliant
- Limited coverage
- It does not cover prescription medication
- Generally doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions
Catastrophic Cover Plan
When looking at your insurance options, you may come across catastrophic plans. These plans often have very low premiums, making them attractive, but they come with high deductibles. They cover the same essential health benefits as ACA plans as well as some preventative care services.
Catastrophic plans are only available to people under 30 as they work best for people without significant medical issues. However, healthcare needs are unpredictable, and you can spend a lot despite having insurance.
- Low premiums
- Catastrophic plans are ACA-compliant, unlike some other high-deductible plans
- Very high deductibles
- Cannot use premium tax credits
Government Assistance: A Lifeline For The Unemployed
The Affordable Care Act seeks to make healthcare accessible to all Americans. In addition to the health insurance marketplace, specific programs exist for low-income individuals, seniors, and people with disabilities.
Medicaid is a federal low-cost healthcare program covering any person with a certain monthly income. The threshold varies between states, so you must check your eligibility.
Because Medicaid eligibility uses your monthly income rather than your yearly income, job loss may make you eligible. A healthcare insurance broker can help you determine if you qualify and if Medicaid is the best option for you.
If you are over 65 or have received Social Security grants for over two years, you may qualify for Medicare. It is designed for seniors and people with specific disabilities and chronic conditions like kidney failure and ALS.
The Medicare system is quite complicated, consisting of Parts A, B, C, and D, each dealing with a different healthcare aspect. At Enhance Health, we specialize in helping people navigate Medicare coverage.
Comparing Health Insurance Plans
We’ve looked at the pros and cons of the top options for health insurance after a job loss. However, it is challenging to weigh up the various options and apply them to your specific situation.
Consulting with an insurance broker will always be your best bet when finding low-cost health insurance that meets your needs. Enhance Health can help you find plans with monthly premiums as low as $0.
We know everything there is to know about the different options available. We can ensure you get the perfect plan without breaking the bank by looking at your income, medical needs, and who you need to cover.
At Enhance Health, we are committed to helping you find low-cost health insurance in any state.
Exploring Health Insurance Discounts
There are also different kinds of discounts that you may qualify for. These can be great options, but the eligibility criteria could be clearer, so an Enhance Health representative can help you better understand your options.
One excellent option is an Enhance HealthRx discount card. By signing up for this free discount card, you can save up to $95 on your prescriptions. We have partnered with over 35,000 pharmacies to help you access your prescription medication at a lower cost.
Premium Tax Credits
Premium tax credits go towards reducing your monthly insurance premium. You should qualify for this tax credit if your income is between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level.
If your income is over 400% of the federal poverty level, you may still qualify for some tax credits, depending on your state.
The best way to find out if you qualify for premium tax credits is to speak to a health insurance broker who knows the regulations for your state.
You might be eligible for cost-sharing reductions if your income is below a certain level. With these, you pay less out-of-pocket when getting medical care. However, these only apply if you are on a Silver tier Marketplace plan.
Navigating individual health insurance is a nightmare of different regulations, varying eligibility, and an avalanche of paperwork.
That’s where Enhance Health comes in. We offer a comprehensive solution, a one-stop shop connecting you with the ideal insurance plan tailored to your needs.
As a trusted team of health insurance brokers, our dedicated professionals will assess your unique circumstances and guide you in selecting the most suitable health insurance option.
To ensure you get the best coverage at the lowest price, contact us today. Take advantage of our expertise and get health insurance for as little as $0 monthly.