Out of work? Here’s how to find an individual health insurance plan

insurance plan

Sometimes an unforeseen event can put you out of work. While many things are bound to change, your health insurance will be one of them. 

Here’s how to find an individual health insurance plan to ensure that you’re covered until you get back to work.

Start By Looking At COBRA

COBRA is an acronym for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. This is a federal program that works to extend your current health insurance policy for up to 18 months after your job is lost. 

Who is Qualified for COBRA

This is only available for employees who work for companies that have over 20 employees. Employers are not mandated to carry this sort of coverage if they have fewer than 20 full-time employees.

This type of coverage takes care of former employees and those retired, as well as former spouses, current spouses, and children that are dependents. In some select states, the coverage is expanded even further. It’s best to check with your HR representative to determine who is all covered under your COBRA policy.

What to Expect If You Qualify for COBRA

For most individuals, your insurance coverage will remain the same for the entirety of the COBRA extension period. However, the cost of the plan will change. 

During your employment with the company, they paid for a portion of your health insurance plan. Once your employment is over, you’ll be responsible for paying for the entire plan. 

As a general rule of thumb, employers pay about 82 percent of the cost for individual plans and 71 percent of the cost for families. Also, you’ll be responsible for a two percent administration fee.

How to Enroll for COBRA Coverage

You’ll receive a notice from COBRA to enroll when your employment ends. You have 60 days to enroll from the date of the notice you received. If you choose to initially waive COBRA coverage and revert back to opting in, you should be able to enroll as long as you’re within the 60 day grace period of the first notice. 

If you do end up opting for a COBRA plan, then you no longer qualify for special enrollment at the health insurance marketplace. This means if you decide that you want to switch plans after enrolling in COBRA, you’ll need to wait until the next open enrollment period to do so.

The Health Insurance Marketplace

While COBRA can help to simplify the process of having health insurance after a job loss, it can be expensive to maintain. Therefore, you may want to look at your own state’s online health insurance marketplace to see if you qualify for a special enrollment period. 

When you lose your job, whether it be through firing or quitting, you’re eligible for a special enrollment program. This lasts for two months, or 60 days, after your health insurance coverage is lost.

You’ll be able to shop around for programs that are offered in your local health marketplace. Before you get started, know that with many of these programs your coverage may not start immediately. 

Rather, it may not go into effect until for an entire month after you leave your job. It’s best to check with the plan adviser to learn when your coverage will start.


You may qualify for Medicaid depending on where you currently live. This is a type of health coverage that’s intended for low-income families, pregnant women, elderly people, and those with disabilities. 

In some select states, Medicaid is available for adults that have a specific income threshold. Healthcare.gov is the place to go to determine whether or not you’re eligible for Medicaid in the state you live in.

Other Available Options

There are other options that may be available to you depending on the specific circumstances in your life. You can try to join your spouse on a sponsored-plan. 

If you’re still under the age of 26, you may be eligible for joining your parent’s employer-based plan. Remember that when it comes to enrolling in a family member’s plan, you’ll need to do so within 30 days from the day your employer stops paying you to be eligible.

Things To Watch Out For When Purchasing Individual Health Insurance

Check for Insurance Supplements

It’s very important to note that short-term health plans don’t supplement traditional individual health insurance plans. Short-term health plans aren’t actually regulated by the health care marketplace. 

Look Out for High Premiums

Insurance providers can formulate policies that don’t offer a lot of benefits but come at a high premium cost. Some short-term programs can even skip over preventative care benefits and maternity care. This is why it’s important that you read over the actual healthcare plan that you intend to get.

Not All Agencies are Created Equal

With the rise in the need for health insurance, there have been many organizations offering insurance coverage. These are considered alternative health insurance programs that are offered by nonprofit groups in the religious sector. 

Many consumers purchase these plans because they come along with very low rates. However, it’s vital to note that these businesses are not classified as insurance. Therefore, they’re under no legal obligation to pay your claim. This isn’t something you want to end up dealing with after an expensive insurance claim.

Do Your Research

Before settling on an individual health insurance plan, you should take the time to talk to a plan adviser at your local health marketplace. Tell the adviser about your needs and your situation to get the best quote and options available within your budget.


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