Small Business Brief


How to Get Health Insurance While Unemployed: 8 Viable Options

On average, people spend over $10,000 on medical expenses annually. That number is more than most Americans can bare given that the average amount a household has in savings is less than $9000.

The solution to the soaring costs of healthcare is, for many, having an insurance plan. Most full-time workers have no problems with that since employers typically foot the bill on coverage expenses.

But what about getting health insurance while unemployed? Is there still a way you can find the coverage you need to avoid costly medical bills?

As it turns out, there are several healthcare options available to unemployed people. Here are a few of our favorites:

1. Explore Medicaid

Low-income individuals that need healthcare coverage can find help through a Medicaid program. Medicaid is sponsored on both a state and federal level. It ensures coverage to people that are in the most impoverished brackets and requires nothing in deductibles and often nothing in co-pays.

The best part about Medicaid is that the quality of care is usually good. Many states enable Medicaid holders to go to big brand healthcare providers like Kaiser which means seeing the same doctors that somebody paying insurance out of pocket would see.

2. Look into Worker’s Compensation

Getting health insurance while unemployed may be possible through your worker’s compensation entitlements. This, of course, depends on the reason why you’re out of work.

Individuals that have found themselves out of work due to a workplace injury should get in touch with their worker’s compensation point of contact for immediate assistance. If you’re having trouble getting the financial support you feel you’re entitled to through the program, you might consider speaking to an attorney.

3. Senior-Focused Medicare

Medicaid and Medicare are two similarly titled programs that are often confused with one another. Unlike Medicaid, you don’t need to be below the poverty line to qualify for Medicare.

Medicare is for senior citizens and people harboring disabilities. While not free in most cases, the program can offset several medical costs, perhaps even the majority of your expenses, depending on which type of Medicare you’ve opted into.

You can learn more about Medicare and its types here.

4. Try the Health Insurance Marketplace

The health insurance marketplace that was established under the Obama presidency was put in place in large part to assist unemployed individuals that need coverage. If you haven’t been to the site yet, we recommend heading over to compare plans.

There is an application window that you need to adhere to enroll. That window is usually open in October but if you’ve undergone a special life circumstance (losing your job for example) you’d qualify for a special enrollment window.

Depending on your income, plans in the healthcare marketplace could be completely free.

5. Opt for Private, Non-Marketplace Plans

Not all healthcare plans are listed in the marketplace. Some, often from smaller insurance providers, can be bought solely through a direct transaction with the provider itself.

A Google search of quality, low-cost medical providers could turn up results that are worth exploring. Just be wary of fly-by-night providers that won’t give you the care you expect.

To save extra, consider opting into a private plan that has low premiums but high deductibles. This strategy is only helpful to people that are in good health and don’t anticipate using their healthcare other than for unexpected emergencies.

6. Find Short-Term Coverage Providers

If you’re unemployed and need quick coverage as you try to find another job, short-term plans may be of assistance. Similar to other private, non-marketplace plans, short-term insurance providers can be found online and give you flexible coverage options that are meant to be used month to month.

Short-term coverage may be more expensive than long-term plans but activation is immediate and their convenience could make them worth choosing.

7. Join a Religious Healthshare

There are religiously-backed helathshares that are available to members of certain faiths. These could serve as a temporary healthcare substitute.

In these healthshares, religious individuals create their own insurance clubs where everybody puts money into a pot each month. When one member needs help, they can draw on the pot for assistance.

The bad part about religious healthshares is that there may be coverage exceptions for certain activities. As an example, if you need birth control assistance, your insurance charter may prohibit paying given ethical conflicts.

8. Non-Religious Organizational Coverage

For those of you that are still wondering what to do about coverage after having read through the options we’ve presented, you might consider opting into non-religious organizational coverage. Access to this coverage is dependent on being part of an organization that offers some sort of insurance program.

For example, some college alumni groups have health care expense sharing clubs in place. In these clubs, members pool together to cover one another’s expenses as needed. Even guilds (freelance writers, actors, etc.) could have similar health care expense clubs set up.

Getting Health Insurance While Unemployed Is Possible and Necessary

Acquiring health insurance while unemployed may seem like a hard task. The truth is though, private and public groups have a plethora of options available to individuals. The trick is to dive into all of your options and come to a conclusion on which is best for you. We hope our list of possibilities has served as an excellent jumping-off point for your search.

Would you like additional information on finding coverage? If you would, we welcome you to browse related content in our digital publication.