Where To Get Health Insurance If You Just Lost Your Job

April. 01, 2020

There are more options for those who have to buy health insurance on their own these days, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

Obamacare exchanges
Those who've recently lost their job-based coverage can check out the policies available on the Affordable Care Act exchanges by going to www.healthcare.gov.

While Obamacare plans can be pricey, the federal government provides premium subsidies for lower- and moderate-income folks -- a category many newly unemployed may fall into. Individuals with incomes up to roughly $50,000 a year or families of four making up to than $103,000 generally qualify for help.

The newly jobless who've suffered major drops in income may qualify for Medicaid, particularly in the 36 states plus the District of Columbia that have expanded eligibility to low-income adults under the Affordable Care Act.

Typically, in these states, individuals who make around $17,500 or less this year and families of four who earn up to about $31,150 are able to sign up.

People can generally apply online or over the phone through their state Medicaid agencies at any time, and most states can determine eligibility within 24 hours, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Medicaid provides comprehensive coverage with no or very low premiums and out-of-pocket costs, though it typically has a more limited network of doctors who accept it.

Those who want to keep their job-based coverage usually can continue it for up to 18 months under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985, known as COBRA.

Single coverage costs about $7,200 annually, on average, with companies covering nearly $6,000 of the premiums.

Some employers are continuing to cover their laid-off workers' health benefits, at least for a short period of time. Macy's, which announced Monday that it is furloughing the majority of its 125,000 employees, said it will pay 100% of premium for those enrolled in its health benefits at least through May.

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