If you’ve recently lost your job, you may hear a friend or family member say, “At least you have your health.” That may provide some perspective and comfort, or it may cause even more stress as you realize you no longer have health insurance. Thankfully you can alleviate that stress by accessing health insurance through a number of channels.
If you had health insurance through your employer and were recently let go, chances are you qualify for COBRA coverage. COBRA stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, which requires continuation coverage to be made available to those in specific situations, like involuntary termination. You may be required to pay premiums and co-payments under COBRA, so it’s important to make sure you’re getting the most cost-effective plan for your situation. As with any insurance plan, there are eligibility stipulations and coverage limits, but COBRA still offers a way to stay covered between jobs.
Although hotly debated politically, the state insurance exchanges set up under the Affordable Care Act can be an invaluable resource for those facing unemployment. While the open enrollment period only takes place from November to mid-December, losing your job is one of the exceptions that qualifies you to apply for coverage at any time. The exchanges offer a number of plans at a variety of price points, and it’s up to you to find the plan that best fits your needs.
Medicaid and CHIP
If purchasing coverage through the exchange is not a viable option, you and your family may be eligible for Medicaid and CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Both Medicaid and CHIP are run at the state level and come with a number of eligibility requirements primarily based on income. Many states have coordinated their Obamacare exchange systems with their Medicaid and CHIP systems to create one streamlined application and enrollment process. Although states are changing their budgets and policies towards Medicaid all the time, it’s a program used by millions of people and one that could get you the coverage you need.
Below you will find additional information and resources on health insurance options:
Access your state’s health insurance exchange
Health coverage options if you’re unemployed
Accessing Medicaid and CHIP state by state