How to Get Health Insurance if You Don’t Have a Job

If you have found yourself recently unemployed, there are many options for obtaining health insurance for those who currently do not have a job. It is important that you do not have a gap in your coverage in this type of situation because many people think the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires health insurance companies to offer coverage to those with pre-existing conditions.  This is simply not true; rather it protects you from being denied coverage when switching employers who offer health insurance. It will provide you no such protection in the open market when purchasing individual health insurance.

1. COBRA – Which stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, requires your previous employer to keep you (the employee) on the company health insurance plan for up to 18 months after you were laid off.  However, this may be costly considering that the employer is no longer contributing to the cost.  So you’ll be responsible to 100% of the premium… which may be around $350 for just you, or $1000 for an entire family*.  This may be your best option if you have a pre-existing condition, which would jeopardized you being accepted when applying for an individual health plan on your own. Contact your employer within 30 days of leaving to enroll if they haven’t already provided you with the information to do so.

Questions about some of the terminology? See Health Insurance Terms for definitions.

2. Short-Term Health Insurance – If you are just in between employment, or you have a waiting period at your new company before their employer sponsored plan kicks in, you should consider short-term health insurance. This coverage will keep you protected in case of emergencies. The rates are affordable and provide the coverage you’ll most likely need during transition. Short-term plans are generally month-to-month, so you can cancel the plan at anytime.

3. Individual & Family Health Insurance – There are plenty of benefits in having an individual plan, even if your next employer offers health insurance.  You can continue with this plan no matter what your employment status and offers the best portability. Depending on how much you pay and how often you use your health plan, this may be your best option.  Just compare rates against what you would pay with your employer-sponsored plan/CORBA and that of an individual plan with the same benefits (co-pay, Rx, deductible, out-of-pocket-maximum, etc.)  If you have a pre-existing condition you may have to wait 12-18 months before the new health plan will cover the costs of claims associated with the condition(s).

Other options include Medicaid and health insurance though Group Associations.

Need health insurance? Get free quotes on individual, family, or group medical plans. Call me for a quote. 310.853.0782

*Kaiser Permanente Quotes