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Coverage Options When You Are Unemployed

March 01, 2021

COVID-19 has led to both a health and economic crisis for millions of Americans. During this challenging time, making decisions about your health care can be stressful. If you need coverage due to unforeseen work circumstances, you have health care options to keep you and your family covered as you look for other opportunities. Consider these health insurance options to provide protection during a coverage gap.

Enroll in coverage with the Affordable Care Act (ACA)

For most states, the Open Enrollment Period to sign up for an ACA plan is November 1 through December 15 (be sure to confirm your state's specific enrollment timeline). But if you recently experienced a job loss, you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. Depending on the type of Special Enrollment Period you qualify for, you may have 60 days before or 60 days following loss of coverage to enroll in a plan.

With the Affordable Care Act, you can compare and purchase insurance plans in the Marketplace. Employment status is not a factor for eligibility. Your cost is based on the state where you live as well as your income. You may also qualify for a health insurance subsidy, which helps lower your monthly premium.

Advantages of ACA Insurance Plans
  • 10 essential health benefits all Marketplace plans cover
  • Flexible plans to fit your specific needs and budget
  • All plans cover pre-existing conditions
Receive Coverage through Medicaid

Upon completing your ACA Marketplace application, you may discover that you qualify for Medicaid. Depending primarily on income, Medicaid provides free or low-cost health coverage for individuals, families and children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

Additionally, some states have expanded their Medicaid programs to cover any individual below certain income levels.

Advantages of Medicaid
  • Comprehensive coverage
  • Low cost, sometimes free health coverage
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) options for children
Extend Health Insurance Coverage with COBRA

Another option might be to continue your health insurance coverage with your previous employer's health insurance plan. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) provides a continuation of group health coverage to workers affected by job loss for up to 36 months. You are eligible for COBRA based on:

  • Your group health plan. The law typically applies to health plans sponsored by employers with 20 or more employees, or by state and local governments.
  • Your qualifying event. Qualifying events include reduction in your work hours or a job loss for any reason other than gross misconduct which has caused you to lose your coverage. Your qualifying event also determines who qualifies and how long your group health plan must offer continuation coverage.
Advantages of COBRA
  • Maintains consistent health insurance coverage from your previous employer
  • Provides coverage up to 36 months
  • Provides coverage for reduced hours as well as job loss
A Comprehensive and Flexible Coverage Option: Anthem Enhanced Choice

In select states1, Anthem Enhanced Choice plans provide coverage that offers many of the comprehensive benefits of employer-based or standalone health insurance plans for the growing number of people who are not covered by traditional health insurance.2

Anthem Enhanced Choice plans were designed to accommodate flexible life situations. Some plans are available with coverage that lasts for nearly 36 months over three coverage periods, and you only have to apply once.3, 4

While Anthem Enhanced Choice plans are not compatible with the Affordable Care Act, they are medically underwritten. Consumers receive essential coverage while being able to save with lower premiums versus unsubsidized Affordable Care Act plans. Compare what you might pay for Anthem Enhanced Choice with other health insurance costs.

Advantages of Anthem Enhanced Choice
  • Comprehensive coverage compared to most employer-based plans
  • May offer lower premiums than ACA plans
  • Flexible coverage periods

Dealing with a job change and health care decisions can be difficult, and you may have other questions. Anthem is here to assist you in choosing a health insurance plan that fits your current situation and budget, so you and your family are always covered. Call the COVID-19 Coverage Option Hotline at 888-832-2583.

1 Anthem Enhanced Choice plans are available in the following states: Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin.
2 Anthem Enhanced Choice coverage is not required to comply with certain federal market requirements for health insurance, principally those contained in the Affordable Care Act. Be sure to check your policy carefully to make sure you are aware of any exclusions or limitations regarding coverage of preexisting conditions or health benefits (such as hospitalization, emergency services, maternity care, preventive care, prescription drugs, and mental health and substance use disorder services). Your policy might also have lifetime and/or annual dollar limits on health benefits. If this coverage expires or you lose eligibility for this coverage, you might have to wait until an open enrollment period to get other health insurance coverage.
3 Nearly 18 months of coverage for Wisconsin. In Ohio, coverage is for 364 days, with the option to apply for additional terms (364 days each).
4 Eligibility restrictions apply. Age eligibility includes coverage up to age 26 for dependents. For child only coverage, a separate application for each child is needed. To be eligible for membership as a subscriber under this contract, the applicant must be a United States citizen or national; or be a lawfully present non-citizen for the entire period for which coverage is sought; and be a legal resident of Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio or Wisconsin; be qualified on the effective date, according to our medical underwriting guidelines, submit proof satisfactory to Anthem to confirm dependent eligibility; agree to pay for the cost of the premium that Anthem requires; reveal any coordination of benefits arrangements or other health benefit arrangements for the applicant or dependents as they become effective; not be incarcerated in Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky or Wisconsin.

Stay informed by checking these resources for up-to-date information about COVID-19, especially if you’re thinking about traveling.