Health insurance options for recently unemployed

Posted at 7:44 PM, Apr 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-06 19:44:38-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Losing your job often means losing your health insurance, a scary truth in the middle of a health crisis.

But what can you do to get the health insurance you need?

One option is the get coverage through the Affordable Care Act or ACA Marketplace.

It allows people to apply for health insurance during the special enrollment period of 60 days after becoming unemployed.

"If you are approved for special enrollment period, they will forward [a] tax credit to the insurance company, and then the insurance company will provide the insurance for you," said Steve Isidor, an insurance agent with Summit Insurance USA.

Isidor says the premiums through the ACA Marketplace are usually reasonable in proportion to someone's income.

To apply, an applicant needs to let marketplace insurers know how much they estimate to make for the rest of the year.

Isidor says this information has to match when you file taxes next year, so you want to be as transparent as possible.

"if you say you're going to make 20,000 dollars, but in reality you make 30,000, the government is going to ask you [to give] back for the excess tax credit they gave you," said Isidor.

Another option is cobra coverage.

"[This] allows former employees to purchase the same health insurance plan that they had from their employer prior to them leaving," said Tom Smythe, a Professor of Finance at Florida Gulf Coast University.

Smythe says for most people, cobra coverage is likely to be expensive, but it is an option, especially for continuity of care.

With cobra coverage, you have to pay the full premium yourself.

"When you're on your employer's group plan, your employer usually picks up the tab for 50 percent, and you pay the other 50-percent for yourself (...) If you were to decide to stay with cobra, you're basically going to have to come up with the monthly premium yourself," said Isidor.

Isidor says someone's income would be the deciding factor on what option is more affordable.

With both options, a person would have had to been covered through their employer.

"If you did not have insurance through your previous employer and were not currently on insurance associated with the affordable care act, getting insurance is going to be difficult," said Smythe.

Isidor says each case is unique, so he suggests people contact an insurance agent to get more information on their specific situation.