Losing a job is something that nobody wants to deal with. There is a lot of fallout from suddenly becoming unemployed. Many people focus on the immediate one, losing their paycheck. Another big side effect from becoming unemployed is losing health benefits from that job. Fortunately, there are a couple of health insurance plans designed to help the unemployed get medical coverage.
Medicaid for HealthCare
Medicaid is the most recognized insurance option for the unemployed. Medicaid is available in all states, but the benefits and requirements might vary a little from state to state. The biggest difference amongst the states is that some of them automatically cover all adults that fall below a certain income level, which will frequently include anyone who is currently unemployed.
Applying for Medicaid
Eligibility is determined by whether or not the state has an expanded Medicaid program or not. If they do not have an expanded program, there will be set income requirements. In most cases, this means that the applicant is making 100% below the poverty level of that state. Anyone that has an expanded program will qualify based on their household size as well as their income. The application process is fairly straightforward and can be done online.
The first thing to determine is the household size. This includes the applicant, their spouse, and any dependents. Typically, these are children, but in some cases adults are eligible as dependents. If they’re claimed as a dependent for tax purposes, they would be applicable during the Medicaid application. The next step is to calculate income. This includes any money received through unemployment. The next part of the application involves filling out some basic information. This includes the names of everyone who needs coverage in the home, their social security numbers, and information on how the applicant normally files their taxes. If anyone is currently employed this information needs to be entered, even if that employer doesn’t provide health insurance benefits. Once all that is entered, the Applicant will be told what they are eligible for.
Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
CHIP is a separate program that is very closely linked to Medicaid. CHIP isn’t as well-known as Medicaid, and some people on unemployment might overlook it completely because of the name. CHIP provides low cost health insurance specifically to children. Unemployed parents should still look at CHIP because it might be something that their families are eligible for, even if the parent wasn’t eligible for Medicaid. In some states, CHIP will also cover parents as well, which is another reason that unemployed parents might want to look into it. More information is available about the application process online, where applicants can easily search by their state.
COBRA is a program that allows an employee to retain their health benefits for a short period of time after they’ve become unemployed. As of 2016, COBRA is frequently considered to be dated in comparison to other forms of federal aid available. In order to learn more about COBRA, the applicant should speak with whoever provides insurance for that business.
Additional Cost Assistance
Aside from Medicaid and CHIP, there are two other types of cost assistance available. These are premium tax credits and cost sharing reduction subsidies. Premium tax credits help to lower premiums, while cost sharing reduction subsidies help to reduce any out of pocket medical costs. These additional subsidies are going to vary greatly from state to state. Typically, anyone that makes 400% or less than their state’s federal poverty level will be eligible. These programs can be just as helpful as Medicaid or CHIP, but they’re unfortunately more difficult to apply for because they vary so much from state to state. Anyone that is interested in learning more is encouraged to reach out to state’s health insurance marketplace, or to speak with health insurance brokers.