Unemployed people need health insurance just as much as employed people, if not more. Health insurance is meant to help cover medical expenses, and people who don’t have jobs have just as much of a chance of getting hurt or sick as those that are employed do. Life is stressful enough without having to worry about how to pay for doctor visits or hospital stays.
Medical costs are very high, and even with health insurance many families have difficulty paying medical bills. Without health insurance, people who are not earning any money will have a lot of difficulty paying the expensive bills that never seem to end. There are options for the unemployed, and even though some of them may not be ideal, it is better than going with no insurance at all.
Does your spouse have health insurance coverage?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the unemployment rate in the United States is around 7.5%, as of April of 2013. The good news is that 92.5% of eligible adults are employed. If you are personally without health insurance and don’t have a job, the first place you should turn to is your spouse, if you have one.
If your significant other has health insurance benefits through their employer, there is more than likely an opportunity for you to get coverage under their plan. It will cost more than it does for your spouse alone, but group insurance is the best way to go if you can get under a plan. This is especially true if you have a condition that is pre-existing or have poor health, as you cannot be denied coverage for a group plan, which is different from some other types of coverage.
What if you recently lost your job?
If you recently lost your job and you had health insurance through your employer, you probably have the option of getting coverage through COBRA. According to the Department of Labor, COBRA began in 1987 and it offers the temporary continuation of your former group health insurance.
COBRA is available for 18 months after loss of employment. It is considerably more expensive than coverage was costing you, at up to 102% of your former rate. However, it is available to you whether your termination was involuntary or voluntary, and it can help as you get back on your feet.
Are you a member of any associations?
A creative option for finding more affordable insurance is if you belong to any associations or groups. The Insurance Information Institution recommends some other group options. They include alumni groups, trade associations, and professional associations.
Freelance workers also have group plans available if you know where to look. As a member of AARP, which you can join after the age of 50, you can join their group health insurance plan.
Is an individual health plan expensive?
Another option for you if you are unemployed and uninsured is an individual health plan. Individual plans tend to be the most expensive plans available, so this should only be chosen as a last resort.
An individual health coverage plan offers multiple options so you will have some decisions to make. If you are fairly healthy and you take good care of yourself, you may want to choose coverage that is for medical emergencies only. This is the least expensive plan and it has a high deductible, but it will cover the expensive costs that result from a serious injury.
If you choose a plan that is more comprehensive, be prepared to spend some money, which may be difficult if you are unemployed. You need to be sure to read all of the components of the plan, as many individual plans will exclude certain illnesses or procedures, especially if you have had care for them in the past.
What are other options for health insurance?
If group plans are unavailable and you can’t afford to pay for individual health insurance there are healthcare programs available for low-income individuals. Medicaid has changed its eligibility requirements for 2014 so that more single adults can get help with their medical costs.
If you are a parent, losing your health insurance due to unemployment can be especially disconcerting. Some unemployed people may find that they are not eligible for Medicare but they also can’t afford an individual health policy. This is where the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or S-CHIP, comes in.
S-CHIP is private, low-cost health insurance coverage that makes health insurance available to children under the age of 19. This program varies from state to state but most benefits include dental care, doctor visits, prescription drugs, and hospital care. The premiums vary per state, as well, but they are meant to be affordable.
Being unemployed brings multiple challenges and stress. Searching for health insurance may be the last thing on your mind but it is something important to consider. If you happen to get into an accident or come down with an unexpected illness, the medical costs can increase quickly and having some type of insurance will help ease some of your worries.