If you’re under the age of 65, you’re probably getting your health insurance from your job, which can have its plusses and minuses. However, in the wake of COVID-19, people may be finding themselves without a job, and worse, without health insurance. Today we’re going to be going through the options you’ll have if you’re without a job.

What do I do after I lose my job?

If you’re looking for open enrollment for 2022 health insurance, the cutoff date for most states is January 15th. If you lose your job after that cutoff date, don’t fret! You don’t have to be without insurance for the year. You qualify for an enrollment period that allows you to enroll in a health plan, all thanks to the American Rescue Plan. The enrollment period lasts for 60 days after the loss of your employer’s coverage.

If you enroll in a plan before your employer’s coverage ends, your self-purchased plan will begin on the first day of the month after your plan ends. Hopefully, that will lead to a seamless transition of coverage if your coverage ends on the last day of the month. If you wait to apply for a new coverage plan, you, unfortunately, will have a gap in coverage, seeing as your new plan wouldn’t take effect until the first of the next month.

If you’re on the lookout for a new job, or you have a new job in the works, you may want to look into a short-term health plan to cover you until your new plan starts. Even though this plan doesn’t cover any pre-existing conditions you have and isn’t regulated by the Affordable Care Act, it’s a good idea to have it just in case you have a surprise medical need during this gap in coverage. It’s better to be prepared than otherwise not.

COBRA vs. Self-Purchased Coverage

You may find that COBRA (or state continuation coverage) provides better coverage for you than a self-purchased plan, so you may find that you want to take advantage of it. COBRA takes effect retroactively, so if you find yourself in a gap of coverage between your old job and your new job, you may want to consider COBRA insurance to give you a transition between insurances. This way, you avoid having a gap as long as the dues are paid. 

Your employer should notify you if COBRA is available and give you the necessary information about how to activate the coverage plan, including how long you can keep it and the monthly price. If you prefer to stay in the COBRA line after your job instead of purchasing a self-purchased plan, you have an enrollment period when your subsidy ends. This allows you to transition to a plan at that point if necessary.

No matter whether you’ve lost a job or chose to part on good terms, there are always coverage options available. No one should be uninsured for any reason.