What to Do If You Lost Your Job & Need Health Insurance – eHealth

Facing unemployment is always daunting. Whether you have been laid off or terminated, there are new realities to face if your employment ends. Health insurance is one of those realities, as most Americans get employer-based group coverage. therefore, the loss of a job may mean the loss of your health coverage.

If you lost your job and need health insurance, you probably have a lot of questions on your mind. How can you get health insurance between jobs and how long will it take to get health insurance at your new job? If you find yourself asking, “I lost my health insurance, what now?” you have options.

Reading: How long after losing job does insurance last

Health coverage options may vary depending on your situation, but we’ve outlined some ways to get health insurance if you’ve lost your job. Learn more about filling the gap between jobs and find out how to find the right insurance to meet your needs.

Do you need health insurance if you lose your job?

Yes, even if you lose health insurance through your job, you need to have health coverage that can protect you and your family. If you do not have health coverage and are involved in a traumatic accident, you may be responsible for 100% of your out-of-pocket costs. Also, depending on the state you live in, you could face a financial penalty if you don’t have health insurance. That’s why you should avoid a health insurance gap between jobs if possible.

How much time do you have to decide if you want new insurance?

In some cases, you may be able to continue to have health insurance coverage through your former employer through the end of the month. In other cases, your former employer may continue to cover you only until your last day of employment or, at the other end of the spectrum, until the end of the year. It varies from company to company, as well as the policy you have. It also depends on where you live.

When you leave your previous employer, they must give you a letter stating exactly how long you have health coverage.

Do I have to wait until annual enrollment opens to get insurance?

No, under the Affordable Care Act, also known as obamacare, you must be eligible for a special enrollment period. what this means is that you don’t need to wait until the annual enrollment period to find a health plan in the marketplace.

For the special enrollment period, you must have a qualifying event, one of which is losing your job. all you need to do is go online, answer a few questions, and you should be allowed to purchase a health insurance plan on the Marketplace during your special enrollment period.

have health insurance options between jobs

If you’re looking for health insurance between jobs, you have a few options available. If you lost your job health insurance, you might consider the following options:

cobra hedge

If you can, before you leave your job, read your employer’s severance package carefully. write down contact information for your human resources department in case you have questions after you leave.

If you lost your work-provided health insurance, you may have the option to extend it for a limited time. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) requires employers with 20 or more workers to give their employees the option to continue health coverage for up to 18 months after their employment ends. Cobra coverage covers you, your spouse, and any other dependents who were on your health plan. rules may vary by state, so check with your company’s human resources department.

Also known as “continuation coverage,” cobra insurance may be available if you (or a family member) have lost work-based health coverage due to:

  • voluntary or involuntary job loss
  • loss of working hours
  • death
  • divorce
  • Generally, you have at least 60 days to enroll in cobra coverage. Coverage generally begins on the date you receive the Cobra coverage notice or the date your current coverage ends, whichever comes first. If you decide not to enroll and then change your mind, you can still enroll as long as you’re within the 60-day deadline.

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    An important thing to keep in mind is that your costs are often much higher with cobra coverage and you will be responsible for the full cost of the premium if you choose this path. Generally, while you are employed, your employer covers a portion of the monthly premium and you pay the rest. if you get cobra coverage, you’ll pay the full cost of the premium along with a 2% administrative fee.

    One of the benefits of extending your health coverage through Cobra is how you can continue with exactly the same plan you currently have. there is no break in your coverage while you find another job or other health coverage. However, because costs can be high and Cobra coverage only lasts for a maximum of 18 months, Cobra is generally intended to fill a gap in coverage until you find a long-term health insurance option.

    self insurance

    Your first option is to head to the market to see the options. you are buying health insurance for yourself. You can compare the features, benefits, and coverage levels of each plan. You should expect this health insurance plan to be more expensive than the one you had at work because no one is subsidizing your coverage. you can shop for coverage and compare plan features with ehealth.

    You should also consider how long it may be before you get a new job. When you start another job, your new employer must provide you with health insurance, so you don’t necessarily want to spend more than you have to. You might even be interested in a plan that provides catastrophic coverage only, assuming that the next time you need preventive care, you may have another job. If you’re over 65, you may also be eligible for Medicare.

    spouse insurance

    Another option is to get health insurance through your spouse. If you are married and your spouse has a job, then he or she may be able to add you to their insurance plan through their employer. you should talk to your spouse about adding them to your health plan. your spouse may also need to talk to their employer to find out how this happens.

    While it will be an additional cost deducted from your paycheck, it will probably be more affordable than buying health insurance directly from the marketplace. You may also receive better coverage if it can be added to your spouse’s health insurance under your policy.

    affordable care law & special inscription

    Another option is to enroll in an Affordable Care Act (ACA) plan. While you can usually only get health insurance during open enrollment, losing your work-based health insurance is a qualifying life event, which means you’re eligible for a special enrollment period to choose a new plan. this applies whether you are fired from your job or quit. You usually have 60 days to select a plan here during your special enrollment period. If you’re looking for a plan here, eHealth offers dozens of providers and access to free health insurance quotes both online and through our customer service line.

    If you can’t immediately find another job that offers employer-sponsored health insurance, a plan here can give you more comprehensive coverage in the meantime. It is important to note that this plan must also cover all pre-existing conditions. All ACA plans are required by law to cover 10 essential health benefits, including preventive services, maternity care, and hospitalization. States may also extend coverage beyond these minimum benefits, which may vary by location. Depending on your income, you may be eligible for a subsidy to help with costs.

    You can often apply for new coverage here to start the first of the month after losing your job and current health insurance, but each insurance company sets its own application deadlines. Most insurance companies generally require an application to be submitted by the 15th of a month for the insurance policy to start on the 1st of the following month.

    To qualify for a special enrollment period, please note that you must leave a job that provided employer-based coverage. If you lose a job that didn’t provide health coverage (such as a part-time or temporary position), you generally won’t be eligible for a special enrollment period. however, there are other qualifying life events that may make you eligible to enroll in coverage outside of open enrollment. states may also expand eligibility rules for special enrollment in certain circumstances.

    If you have questions or are unsure if you may qualify for a special enrollment period, an ehealth-licensed insurance agent can guide you through the different health care options by state.

    short-term medical insurance

    Another way to get health insurance if you’ve lost your job is short-term insurance. These plans generally offer health coverage for up to 12 months at a time. some states even allow you to renew coverage. One benefit is that you can join a short-term plan at any time; you don’t need to wait for open enrollment or qualify for a special enrollment period.

    Please note that short-term coverage is not the same as Marketplace coverage and these plans are not required to cover minimum essential health benefits, such as maternity care or preventive services. Also, unlike Marketplace plans, short-term plans don’t cover pre-existing conditions and don’t qualify for any government subsidies. These plans provide limited temporary health coverage and may be an option if you want some coverage until you can get major health insurance, especially if no coverage is the alternative.

    catastrophic health coverage

    See also: Long-Term Care Insurance

    catastrophic health plans are high deductible plans that come with low monthly premiums.

    These plans are considered major health insurance and must cover the same 10 essential health benefits as Marketplace plans. If you’ve lost your job and still need health insurance, catastrophic health insurance would cover you if something big happened.

    Because these plans have such a high deductible, they’re really meant to cover you in the worst case scenario, like hospitalization for an injury or illness. For routine medical expenses, like doctor’s appointments or preventive exams, you’ll usually pay out of pocket. however, these plans will cover at least three primary care visits each year, even before you meet your deductible.

    To be eligible, you must have a “hardship exception,” which means you have been determined unable to afford health insurance.


    Medicaid offers free or subsidized health coverage for individuals and families with limited incomes. You can apply for the Medicaid program at any time. there are no open enrollment periods. eligibility depends on income, assets, and household size, and criteria vary by state. if you receive unemployment benefits, this will be calculated in your eligibility. Because many states have expanded eligibility for Medicaid, you may still qualify based on where you live. To apply or get more information, contact your state Medicaid department.

    How long does it take for the insurance to kick in at your new job?

    Getting health insurance is one of the most important parts of starting a new job. In general, your health coverage will begin on the first day of your employment; however, there may be a 90-day waiting period before your health coverage begins. As you look at health insurance plans through your new employer, you need to be clear about exactly when your health insurance begins, as you may need to cancel a Cobra or short-term health insurance policy.

    talk to an ehealth expert

    Now you have a better idea of ​​your future coverage options. As in any situation, coverage details vary by plan and state. To find the right information that’s specific to your needs, talk to an ehealth broker.

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    Our mission at e-health is to support the health and wellness of individuals and small businesses. For more insurance tips, health advice, and coverage information, visit ehealth.com

    For information and guidance specific to the coronavirus outbreak, visit cdc.gov

    This article is for general information and should not be considered medical advice. consult a medical professional for medical advice. check with your particular insurance company to see what your particular insurance plan covers.

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