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How to Get Health Insurance If You Lose Your Job

Mira Research Team12 Aug 2021

If you recently lost your job and became unemployed, you can either keep your current plan if you qualify for COBRA or purchase a new plan on the Health Insurance Marketplace. If your income significantly decreased, you may qualify for Medicaid. Below we walk through several health insurance options if you lose your job.

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How to Get Health Insurance If You Lose Your Job

If you lose your job, you have several options to get health insurance:

  1. COBRA
  2. Healthcare Marketplace
  3. Medicaid
  4. Supplemental or Short Term Solutions

Health Insurance Options If You Lost Your Job

If you lost your employer-based health insurance, you have a few options to get coverage. 

Sign up for COBRA 

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) allows individuals and families to continue to receive their employer-based health insurance for a finite period of time. Family members and yourself can stay on this plan, and if you qualify for COBRA, you will likely be able to keep your plan for up to 18 months and, in some cases, even longer.

You may qualify for COBRA if you recently quit your job, lost your job, or reduced the number of hours you work. COBRA only applies to private-sector or local/state government groups that have more than 20 employees. 

If you decide to stay on your current health insurance plan, the price will most likely increase because your employer is no longer helping to pay for the plan. Therefore, you should compare the cost of your old plan with new plans for the insurance marketplace.  To find out more about whether you qualify for COBRA, talk to your employer.

Choose a Healthcare Marketplace Plan

If you lose your job, you can purchase a private insurance plan through the Healthcare Marketplace. If you lose or quit your job, you will qualify for a special enrollment period. This enrollment period will give you 60 days to purchase a new health insurance plan for you and your dependents. If you miss this 60-day window, you will have to wait until the open enrollment period to sign up for a new plan. 

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There are many factors to consider when purchasing a new health insurance plan. The monthly premium, deductible, co-pay, hospital coverage, urgent care coverage, and lab test coverage are important factors to consider. It can also be beneficial to look up customer reviews to see people’s experience with the insurance provider. 

It's important to fully understand how the marketplace works before purchasing a plan. Plans have a metal assigned to them as an indicator of the level of coverage it offers. The options are bronze, silver, gold, and platinum with bronze having the lowest monthly premium and platinum having the highest.

See if You Qualify for Medicaid

Medicaid provides health coverage for some low-income people, families and children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with disabilities in all states. In some states, the program covers all low-income adults below a certain income level.

Your monthly earnings determine Medicaid eligibility; therefore, you may now qualify for Medicaid coverage if you recently lost your job. You must currently be living in one of the 37 states that opted to expand Medicaid coverage and make less than 138% of the federal poverty level.

Supplemental or Short Term Healthcare

Health insurance plans within the marketplace offer supplemental health insurance plans to assist you in paying medical costs and out-of-pocket expenses that often accompany these unexpected events. Aetna, United Healthcare, and other insurance companies offer these plans.

Each plan may have different qualifications, but generally, this plan option may be a good fit for you if: 

  • Unable to apply for Affordable Care Act (ACA), also called Obamacare, coverage because you missed Open Enrollment and didn't qualify for Special Enrollment.
  • Waiting for your ACA coverage to start
  • Looking for coverage options to bridge you to Medicare
  • Turning 26 and coming off your parent's insurance
  • Between jobs or waiting for benefits to begin at your new job
  • Healthy and under 65

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Getting Health Insurance if You Lose Your Job Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Finding health insurance when you've lost your job can be overwhelming. Below we break down frequently asked questions to help you navigate your situation.

When does health insurance end if you lose your job?

Whether you lose your job, get fired, or quit, employers decide how long to continue your health insurance coverage. Your employer can decide to end coverage the day you leave your job or at the end of the month. You can contact your past employer's benefits administrator to learn more about how much longer your coverage will last. 

You will be eligible for a special enrollment period that generally lasts up to 60 days after the triggering event (like quitting your job). 

Can I go on my parent's or spouse's health insurance after losing my job?

Due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), you can continue to be covered by your parents’ health insurance until you are 26. In addition, if you live in New York State, you may be eligible for “Age 29” Dependent Coverage Extension. You may qualify to stay on your parent's plan until age 29 if you meet the following criteria: 

  • Unmarried
  • 29 years old or younger
  • Not eligible for comprehensive health insurance from employer-based coverage
  • Live, work, or reside in NY state
  • Not covered by Medicare

If your spouse has coverage through their employer, it may be possible for you to be added to their plan outside the annual Open Enrollment Period. Ask your spouse to contact their company’s HR department to find out.

Does health insurance start the same day I lose my employer-sponsored insurance?

It depends on what options you resort to. Marketplace plans take effect the first day of the month after your job-based insurance ends. Therefore, if you lose your insurance plan on March 7 and select a Marketplace plan by March 31, coverage can start on April 1. However, if you use a solution such as Mira, healthcare coverage will start the same day you sign up.

Bottom Line

There are many health insurance options when losing your job. It's important to openly communicate with your past employer to understand when your employer-sponsored health insurance ends. From there, you should evaluate your financial situation to make the best decision. 

Another solution is Mira for just $45 per month. Covering affordable urgent care visits, low-cost lab testing, and discounted prescriptions. Sign up today and get covered immediately.