How To Get Health Insurance Without A Job? Smart ways to cover medical bills

Worrying about how to get health insurance without a job? Read till the end to know about all the valuable insurance and health coverage plans that you can utilize in the absence of employment and health insurance.

If you are in the U.S and you do not have health insurance, you might as well consider yourself sitting on a time bomb. Health insurance is essential everywhere in the world, but in the U.S, it is indispensable. If you are ill and paying the bills from your pocket, there is a high chance of extreme financial difficulty or even total bankruptcy. On top of this, the medical authorities are not even required to treat you by law if you are not covered by insurance. So, having yourself covered by health insurance is an absolute necessity in the U.S. However, there are still many who do not have it.

While everyone should ideally have health insurance, many things might make it hard for people to have it. Unemployment is one of the biggest reasons behind the absence of health insurance. Paying for health insurance privately can be utterly unrealistic because the fees are sky high and rank as the most significant reason behind personal bankruptcy. Having health insurance is a must, but how to have one when you do not even have a job.

Not having a job is a problem, and being uninsured for health services adds to the burden. You might be left highly vulnerable, and things can even take ugly turns if something drastic happens. However, there is nothing to perry, because there are quite a few options open for the unemployed.

There are special insurance options available to those unemployed, but that requires quick action from you. As you lose your job, you qualify for a “special enrollment” period of 60 days to get health insurance. The U.S government regulates this special enrollment. However, some private health insurance options are available, which might work just fine and may come with flexible terms.

Health insurance in America

Health care in the States is costly. A single visit to a doctor can cost several hundred dollars. An average (nothing crucial even) three-day hospital stay might result in tens of thousands of dollars, perhaps even more. The cost of medical care will eventually depend on the type of care you receive, but it will be mind-blowingly expensive in all cases.

Most of us won’t be able to afford to pay such massive sums when we get sick, especially when it’s not in our control- no one knows when they will have an accident or illness. Healthcare is complicated in America, and the only way out is an excellent insurance plan.

Since there is no universal health coverage in the United States, you will have to manage your health insurance. This is one reason why life is expensive in the states. The way things typically work in insurance is that as a consumer, you will pay an upfront premium to an insurance company and the insurance company pays your medical bills when the time comes, regardless of the size of the bills.

The premium you pay at intervals makes you share “risk” with lots of other people just like you who are paying the same premiums. Since it’s unlikely that all the people paying the premiums will be terminally and critically ill all of a sudden, and most people tend to stay healthy most of the time, the premium money paid to the insurance company is effectively used to manage the expenses of the (relatively) a small number of people who get sick or are injured.

Insurance companies are no social welfare companies. They are in this for money, so you can imagine that they study risk extensively. Their goal is to collect enough premium to cover medical costs of all members effectively and still make a good profit for the company.

There are several different types of health insurance plans in the U.S., regulated by many different rules and regulations regarding money and health care dispensation. Most of the time, healthcare insurance is paid by employers. Healthcare usually comes as an employment benefit.

All companies and businesses that employ more than 50 employees must include healthcare benefits for their employees and even their families. The employers pay whole or part of the premiums for the insurance plans which cover the employees. This is an effective healthcare system and works smoothly until someone loses employment.

Though there is no shortage of private insurance companies at all, it is always great to have someone (employer) who pays your premiums and protects you in times of illness and injuries.

However, what about when you are out of a job and have no one to cover you against disease and distress?

How do I get health insurance when unemployed?

If you recently lost your job and are worried about your finances and healthcare, you are doing just the most natural thing. There is no universal healthcare coverage in the U.S, and employers fund health insurance plans for their employers. This is why you worry about being ill when you lose your job because the insurance plans may also be terminated along with the job.

To protect the unemployed, quite a few plans help mitigate the situation.

Cobra

The first and the most famous one is COBRA. Cobra allows you to keep your previous employer’s insurance plan when you lose your job. It sounds great, but there is a downside too. You are required to pay higher premiums on COBRA, which is when you have already lost the job. This can drain you completely, so you won’t see the benefit of having health coverage at all. If you can pay higher rates, you might as well remain without insurance.

Special enrollment period

Yet another is that special enrollment, according to which you can enroll for a new plan after becoming unemployed, but the coverage ends 60 days after the end of your job. This means this option is not helpful for all as the coverage time is minimal. 60 days can end very soon, and it is not a time period that most people will find a new job in.

STMs

In some states, some short-term health coverage options will be much cheaper and way more attractive than COBRA or the special enrollment offered by the federal government. These short-term coverage plans keep you covered for a year as you look for a new job.

What are the best health insurance programs for the unemployed?

Some private insurance plans really help make things better when you can’t get government supported health coverage.

1- Sidecar Health

Among all the health insurance programs offered at the moment, Sidecar Health is the best one for unemployed people. It was founded in 2018 and is like a breath of fresh air for health insurance coverage. It’s flexible, affordable, and very approachable, and these characteristics make it the best plan so far.

Pros

  • Things work slightly differently with this insurance program. Instead of having an insurance card to show at your doctor’s office, Sidecar Health issues a payment card to pay for your doctor’s visits in cash. This is not just a cheaper and more affordable option; it is also the most flexible and accommodating one.
  • Because you are not relying on a health or insurance card and you are paying from your pocket (using the plan’s benefits), you can visit your doctor any time. You do not have to follow the restrictions with the provider’s network. Also, you can apply for this insurance whenever you want: there is no need to wait for open enrollment periods when you need one.
  • The Sidecar Health insurance is truly amazing; you can apply for it via the internet or even use their smartphone app for the purpose. This means phenomenal ease. Choose your health care deal sitting at home without worrying about paperwork or any other delays. The digital tools of Sidecar Health make it a favorite overall.
  • Once on the platform, you have three options to choose from. If you use the standard program, you might as well start with $0 deductible. However, you can always customize your plan according to your needs. Go for custom, and you can set the deductible at $1,000. However, once the deductible is paid, your monthly installments are reduced.
  • Sidecar Health comes with very low monthly premiums, which suits those out of a job. In Texas, premium monthly payments start at $215 per month with a $0 deductible for a healthy 50-year-old adult, but you can expect more than $10,000 in annual coverage. This amount may not be much for some people.
  • There are no time restrictions regarding getting and canceling the insurance: get it when you want and end it when you don’t.

Cons

  • Unfortunately, Sidecar Health won’t be available in some states if you or anyone in the family is expecting a child because its maternity care rider isn’t always available everywhere as per the standard plan. However, maternity and newborn coverage are available with Sidecar’s ACA plan.
  • You also should know in advance that registration and approval are a bit complicated. At least, it is more complicated than most other health care plans.
  • It’s available in just 17 states.
  • Health care providers’ networks are not part of this insurance plan. The Sidecar plan issues a card that is used to pay for services in cash. There is, most definitely, a limit on the money you can use. Doctors will have their own pricing set for those paying out of their pocket and not using the provider’s network services. You will have to ask around for fees before you book an appointment. However, as their registered user, you can use their smartphone app for price comparisons.

2- IHC group

If you want insurance for a short period that you are out of a job, the IHC Group short-term plan is best for you. They cover you well and for a year, and you can utilize that time looking for a new job without worrying about medical bills. If you recently lost your job but are optimistic about landing another one soon, you should go for short-term insurance plans that cover you until you get an employer’s health insurance guarantee.

Pros

  • IHC’s short-term plans are best for those looking to fill a temporary gap. The most significant advantage of this insurance plan is that it gives you maximum flexibility for 365 days of the year. You start the plan one day, and it’s effective by the next. No need to wait.
  • The annual benefit is quite a lot standing at $ 2 million. This is in contrast to the famous Sidecar Health, where annual benefits do not exceed $ 10,000. However, there are no customization offers at the moment, and the annual benefit cannot be reduced or changed in any way.
  • You’ll also have the option to add coverage for dental, vision, prescriptions, and telehealth depending on your state, with riders that start around $25 per month.

Cons

  • IHC’s short-term plans come with very high deductibles and monthly payments. When you are out of a job, these payments may be too much for you.
  • STM, short-term plans do not comply with ACA, which means free preventive care is excluded in all short-term insurance plans. You should know this before you get one.
  • Like many other plans, this insurance plan is limited to some states only. It’s not available in all states.
  • Since STMs or short-term plans are state authority, you can expect a great variety of differences in the application rules and regulations.

3- Blue Cross Blue Shield’s (BCBS)

This is the best among all catastrophic coverage plans and for obvious reasons. It is the most economical option among all such programs, perfect for those unemployed. When you are unemployed, you have little inclination to pay high rates for anything, and health insurance

is included. The plan is offered for those young adults below 30 who cannot afford health coverage any other way.

Pros

  • The best thing about BCBS is that you can find this plan in all 50 states of the United States.
  • The BCBS benefits include ACA compliance means you are entitled to free preventive care under this program.
  • Like all other catastrophic programs, the deductibles are high, but the premiums are exceptionally low. This means they are very light on the pocket in the long run.
  • A very dedicated program for young adults between 30 and 18.
  • It’s a nationwide network of insurance, and you can expect quite a lot of uniformity across states.

Cons

  • BCBS comes with high deductibles, which may be difficult for some people.
  • Coverage policies can vary with the company’s part of the coverage network. This can mean unnecessary complications.

4- Cigna

Cigna insurance programs have access to the nation’s two largest virtual healthcare networks. This means Cigna members have ready access to virtual care and the best part is that the virtual care facilities are completely free. Virtual care services are a lifesaver for someone experiencing unemployment. Going to the doctor and paying from your pocket can be difficult; Cigna helps you with its free virtual care programs.

You have a query or a problem that may be fixed at home; there you go. Cigna telehealth has you covered.

Pros

  • You can expect Cigna to be present almost everywhere in the States. Its network is vast, with the two largest telehealth networks working with it.
  • Telehealth services are free: all plans on Cigna have $0 charges for virtual care.
  • Virtual health visits aren’t the only advantage of purchasing Cigna’s health insurance. In-house customer service is available 24 hours a day to answer questions and provide assistance.
  • The company also places a $25 monthly out-of-pocket cost limit on insulin regardless of coverage level.
  • Dental care starts at around $19, which is marvelous.

Cons

  • Cigna care does not start right after registration; you will have to wait until the first of the following month after registration. This is different from the programs that start the next day after registration.
  • Individual plans of Cigna are not available everywhere. They are available in only 10 states.
  • One real turn-off is the higher than average cost of premiums. The monthly installments can be a bit of a challenge for some.

5- Oscar

When you lose your job and lose company-sponsored health insurance, your dependents’ coverage will also be dropped. The entire family will lose the safety net, which can be a huge issue. For individuals, things can be more complicated, but it will be a catastrophe for families to have no income pouring in regularly. Oscar offers special features that make life easier for large families after being hit with unemployment.

Pros

  • Oscar weaves a safety net for large families who are facing unemployment. With insurer’s plans tax credits, you can reduce your monthly premiums to a significant level. This is especially true if your income is less than four times the federal poverty level.
  • Policies put a limit on family deductibles; a family’s overall deductible will not exceed twice the individual deductible regardless of the size of the family.
  • Coverage is easy to acquire with the digital tools offered by the insurance plan. If you get the package online, there are some perks that you get alongside, which make the deal even more attractive.
  • Use the app to get virtual care or contact the free concierge service staffed by experts who can help you schedule appointments and refill prescriptions. If you sync the app with your smartphone’s step counter, you’ll earn a dollar for every day that you meet your step goal, up to $100 per year.

Cons

  • Oscar coverage is available in only 18 states.
  • The provider network is smaller than most other networks.
  • Oscar also offers no help for out-of-network visits except in emergencies.

6- Ambetter

Looking for the best insurance for dental health coverage? Ambetter is the answer. You can upgrade any of the ambetter plans to include dental services for as little as $12 monthly. If you are unemployed, would it not be a hassle and a huge financial burden if you were to buy your dental insurance separately? Yes, it sure will be. This is why Ambetter ranks high among insurance plans for the unemployed.

Pros

  • Any of the ambetter plans can be upgraded to include dental care for just $12 monthly
  • You can also have your vision care in the plan in some states
  • It is one of the cheapest insurance plans out there: this factor makes it a huge favorite among the unemployed because they would like to save every penny until they hit their next jackpot.
  • It’s ACA compliant, which means preventive care and medicine are free of cost.
  • You choose to live a healthy lifestyle, and ambetter gives you rewards for it; this is just a wow factor!
  • Teledoctor services are available along with 24 hours nurse services; you do not have to worry about minor issues any longer.

Cons

  • Available in just 24 states, half of America is not eligible.
  • There are stringent rules regarding late payments, which are most likely when you are out of a job. If you fail to pay your premium for more than 30 days after the due date, you might as well say goodbye to the plan altogether.
  • The program does not include many digital tools.

7- United Healthcare

Unite Healthcare stands out among other choices with its vast network and comprehensive services. You are never out of the loop when you have United healthcare membership. It may not be the absolute best, but you can’t find a match when it comes to a vast enough network that includes most healthcare providers. You won’t have to check if your current doctor is covered by united healthcare or not because there are high chances they will be.

Pros

  • An expansive network of more than 1.3 million physicians and 6,000 hospitals in the U.S. This is more than anyone else can claim.
  • You can find UnitedHealthcare’s short-term medical plans in every state. It is, by far. The largest health insurance provider network in the country.
  • Dozens of programs and bundles to choose from. You are not restricted to a few ‘pre-planned’ plans.
  • These plans are not long term in general- they are created for people who need insurance temporarily for whatever reasons
  • The maximum coverage time on this insurance plan is 3 years and nothing more than that. The three-year program is in itself an exclusion.
  • By adding services like dental or vision, you get good discounts.

Cons

  • If we must think of downsides, it’s the higher premiums than its competitors. However, it must be mentioned that the wonderful tri-term plan is a much cheaper full health coverage and perfect to safeguard while you are on the new job hunt.

What do you do if you don’t have health insurance?

If you are in the U.S, you won’t leave yourself without health insurance because health coverage is essential to survive here. However, if still, for some reason, you have not been able to get health coverage, and you find yourself unprotected and need medical attention, you should make up your mind about complete out-of-pocket payments.

Medical professionals can even refuse to treat you if you are not covered by any insurance plan.

However, U.S. law does not allow hospitals to refuse treatment regardless of your financial situation in case of an emergency.

Additionally, if you genuinely can’t afford coverage, there is always Medicaid. You should check if you qualify for some grants or programs. If even Medicaid is out of the question, you can consider getting a low-cost catastrophic plan for protection.

Conclusion

Healthcare is expensive in the United States, and there is no universal free state-supported health care policy either. There are quite a few supported insurance options that work in the absence of universal healthcare. Legally, employers are to pay parts of or total premiums for their employees, but this coverage ends when you lose a job. In those troubled times, there are some government programs that help you survive the depression. In addition, there are multiple private, low-cost healthcare insurance plans that you can make use of to cover your medical bills when the need arises.

Tony Bennett

Tony Bennett

Tony Benett makes his living in the insurance industry by teaching and consulting. He is also recognized by the legal profession as an expert on insurance coverages. His insurance experience includes having worked at the company level, owned an independent general agency and having worked for an insurance association. He has received various certificates over the past few years and helps his clients and readers by giving them a realistic outlook on what they can expect to achieve within their set targets. At Insurance Noon, he is known for his in-depth analysis and attention to details with accuracy. He has been published as one of the most referred agents by his peers in the insurance community. Tony loves the outdoors and most sport events. His passion other than providing excellent advice is playing golf.