How To Get Healthcare Without A Job
Dear Rich Lifer,
Coronavirus has devastated America in countless ways. There have been over 200,000 deaths and over eight million cases.
The economy has taken a huge hit, with many small businesses forced to shut down due to closures and a lack of proper funding.
Thousands are out of work, with the current unemployment rate at 7.9%.
The combination of all these factors has left many without healthcare.
According to recent data from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), about 156,199,800 Americans, or around 49% of the country’s total population, receive employer-sponsored health insurance (also called group health insurance).
With thousands of jobs lost, many people are now facing the terrifying reality of being without health insurance in the middle of a pandemic.
With the regular cold and flu season upon us, coupled with rising COVID-19 cases, now is the time to figure out how to make sure you are covered.
Thankfully there are still ways to get insurance if you have lost your job.
Today we will walk through the steps you need to take to protect your health regardless of your employment status.
Open Enrollment season is soon to be upon us! Open Enrollment begins on November 1 and runs through December 15 for coverage starting January 1, 2021.
Starting November 1, you can log into HealthCare.gov, fill out an application and enroll in a 2021 Marketplace Healthcare Plan.
There are a few things you can do to prepare for Open Enrollment:
- Get an overview of the Health Insurance Marketplace by visiting https://www.healthcare.gov/quick-guide/.
- Get an estimate of what you will likely have to pay using the Cost Estimator. This tool will allow you to put in information such as your household size, location and your estimated household income. It will then provide you with a quick view of income levels that qualify for savings.
You may qualify for a premium tax credit that will lower your monthly insurance bill and can also result in lower out-of-pocket costs when it comes to deductibles and copays.
You’ll learn your exact savings and plan prices when you fill out a Marketplace application.
- As we mentioned above, you’ll have to input your estimated income to get an idea of your insurance cost. If you need help making this estimate, there is another easy tool you can use called the Income Calculator.
- gov also provides incredibly helpful checklists that you can use to make sure you are compiling all the correct info so you are ready to go on November 1. The checklist can be found here.
Applying for health insurance can often seem like a complicated or scary process. If you review these steps and still feel like you would benefit from additional help, you’re in luck!
There are trained helpers in every community that are ready to answer all your questions. You can search for local help through this website by entering your zip code.
You will be directed to your state’s local healthcare market, where you’ll be able to do even more specific research and can find an assistor to help with the process.
Remember, you can apply for health insurance in whatever way is most convenient for you. There are options to sign up online and over the phone if you don’t feel comfortable going in-person to apply.
If you are someone who has recently lost a job and don’t want to wait until open enrollment to get 2021 coverage, no need to fear. There are plenty of options for you as well. (Check out these 5 steps you can take now to protect your family.)
If you leave your job for any reason and lose your job-based insurance, you can buy a Marketplace plan. Losing job-based coverage, even if you quit or get fired, qualifies you for a Special Enrollment Period. This means you can buy insurance outside the yearly Open Enrollment Period.
In this case, your coverage will start the first month after you lose your insurance.
When you lose your job and apply for coverage through the Marketplace, you will be considered for three types of coverage.
- A Marketplace Insurance Plan
You may qualify for premium tax credits and savings on deductibles, copayments, and other out-of-pocket costs based on your household size and income. Some people with low incomes may wind up paying very small premiums. You can use the same helpful tools we linked to above to estimate your healthcare costs.
Medicaid provides coverage to millions of Americans with limited incomes or disabilities. Many states have expanded Medicaid to cover all people below certain income levels.
- Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
CHIP provides coverage for children, and in some states pregnant women, in families with incomes too high for Medicaid but too low to afford private insurance.
You can learn more about Medicaid and CHIP here.
You may be eligible to keep your job-based healthcare plan through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA).
COBRA is a federal law that generally requires that group health plans — sponsored by employers with 20 or more employees in the prior year — offer employees and their families the opportunity for a temporary extension of health coverage (called continuation coverage) in certain instances where coverage under the plan would otherwise end.
Coverage under COBRA usually lasts around 18 months, and you can expect to pay the full premium plus a small administrative fee.
The US Department of Labor has more info on COBRA, which can be found here.
We understand how scary it can be to be without insurance during such an uncertain time, and we hope these guidelines provided some of the information necessary to get covered as quickly as possible.
To a richer life,
The Rich Life Roadmap Team