Between Jobs? Consider These 6 Health Care Coverage Options for the Unemployed

By  //  March 4, 2021

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Whether you’ve impulsively quit your toxic job in a satisfying blaze of glory, are in the process of an exciting career transition, or have just been laid off in a disappointing turn of events, you’re probably feeling the emotional repercussions. Unemployment introduces numerous concerns regarding financial security, lifestyle changes, and emotional challenges. 

The American Institute for Cognitive Therapy even notes that being unemployed puts you at a higher risk for depression, diabetes, and hypertension. Being between jobs isn’t easy, but if you think your lack of employment means that you’re totally out of luck when it comes to health care coverage, you ought to think again.

Even if you’re sure you have an immune system of steel, you don’t want to get caught without the means to pay for medical expenses. If an unfortunate accident or illness strikes, your bank account will suffer—much like your body.

Footing the bill for a surprise medical emergency without insurance could bankrupt you, and insurance-based access to preventative care like checkups, screenings, and vaccinations can save you thousands long-term.

Taking your chances on health care coverage is a financially and physically risky business, so getting yourself covered is a must. If you’re unsure where to start, begin your hunt by conducting a Google search using the keywords “health insurance in my state” and consider these health care coverage options for the unemployed.

Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) 

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act is, firstly, a mouthful and, secondly, an act requiring employers to cover employees up to 18  to 36 months after the termination. While COBRA requires ex-employees to pay the entirety of their insurance premium out-of-pocket, the option may offer you some much-needed peace of mind as you search for your next employment opportunity.

High-Deductible Private Health Insurance 

If extending your employer’s insurance isn’t an option, you can begin shopping in the private market. Purchasing high-deductible private health insurance might rack up extra costs, but if you have a Health Savings Account designed to help with out-of-pocket costs, enrolling in a high-deductible plan will help you score low monthly premiums.


If you’re planning on unemployment long-term, you may qualify for Medicare or Medicaid. While Medicaid provides healthcare coverage assistance to individuals with disabilities, the elderly, and families on low incomes, Medicare helps with hospital and medical care for people over the age of 65, individuals who have received Social Security disability benefits, or those suffering from certain chronic diseases.

State Marketplace 

While the federal Health Insurance Marketplace provides access to government healthcare coverage options like Medicaid and Medicare, many states have a state-based marketplace available to their residents. You can check with your state insurance department to find out if state coverage is accessible to you.

Parental or Familial Coverage 

If you’re unemployed, under the age of 26, and have parents covered by health insurance through their employer, you’re in luck. Adults who are less than 26 years old can qualify for their parent’s insurance plans whether they’re employed or not. Talk with your mom or dad and ask if they’d be willing to add you to their insurance temporarily. Additionally, you can hop on your spouse’s plan to rectify your recent job loss.

Short-term coverage

In some states, you can purchase short-term insurance directly from a health insurance company for temporary coverage. If you plan to be employed again within the next year, a short-term plan with a limited range that excludes extras like maternal or mental health care can get you by until you land your next job.

Bottom line

Navigating unemployment is tricky, but once you snag an affordable and reasonable health insurance option, you’ll have one of your most important bases covered should an unfortunate emergency take place.