Health Insurance Options for the Unemployed

Whether you've recently become unemployed or have been struggling to find a job in today's difficult job market, there are several options for getting proper health coverage. With over 10 million Americans currently unemployed, it's no surprise that many are living without health insurance. While searching for a solid job can take some time, it doesn't mean you have to ignore health care for yourself or your family. Here are the top 5 health insurance options for the unemployed, so you can make sure you and your loved ones receive proper medical care when you need it most.


Medicaid helps millions of Americans with disabilities or those with limited incomes by providing subsidized health care. Many states have lowered the required income levels to become eligible for Medicaid, making it a much more accessible option for individuals and families. After the introduction of the Affordable Care Act, states were given the choice of whether or not to increase Medicaid coverage. If your state has increased its coverage, you will need to determine if you qualify based on your household size and income level.

For those who live in states that have not increased Medicaid coverage, you will need to meet your state's current eligibility requirements. Generally, your income must be 100% below the poverty level of $11,670 for individuals and $23,850 for a family of four.


Health insurance provided on the Obamacare marketplace can be deeply discounted. Currently, over 17 million Americans qualify for tax credits allowing them to purchase health insurance at heavily discounted rates. Obamacare does have certain enrollment windows, but losing employment does qualify you for a special enrollment option so you can apply for health insurance immediately.

Individual health plans usually qualify for minimum essential coverage, which typically mirrors employer-sponsored health plans in terms of coverage and cost. Obamacare is currently divided into four tier levels that vary in terms of their premiums, coverage, and cost-sharing percentages.


The Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act, also known as COBRA, was designed so that individuals and their families would be able to retain their employer-sponsored health care benefits for a certain amount of time after a life altering event. This typically applied to those who were recently terminated from their jobs for reasons other than a gross violation.

COBRA usually provides coverage for 1 to 3 years after you have been let go from your previous employment. While benefits remain the same, premiums can be quite costly as individuals under COBRA are responsible for paying their entire monthly premium cost without assistance from their employers. This can mean monthly rates ranging from $500 to over $1500 for individuals and families which are a great deal higher than similar level subsidized plans.


The Children's Health Insurance Program, CHIP, provides health coverage for children in cases where families have too high of an income to qualify for Medicaid but too low an income for private insurance. CHIP sometimes also covers pregnant women. Each state determines their own CHIP coverage levels and requirements, so be sure to confirm your eligibility with your specific state. You can apply for CHIP at any time of the year and there is no limited enrollment period. Those that qualify will see immediate health coverage benefits including routine check-ups, prescription plans, dental and vision care, and more.

Local Health Centers

A last option that many neglect to consider is health coverage as provided by your local health center. There are a reported 1,200 health centers operating at over 9,000 sites across the nation. These centers offer low-cost health services ranging from regular check-ups, immunizations, and other specialized health treatments. Centers vary in their prices and coverage levels, so make sure to find several in your area before committing to any one in particular.

If you're one of the millions of Americans currently unemployed, you still have options for receiving proper health coverage. Whether you qualify for Medicaid, CHIP, or other health insurance options, you are still able to find assistance after looking into your state's particular requirements. Local health centers are also a valid option for low-cost medical care and should be contacted for more information.

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