While health insurance is far more readily available today than even 15 years ago, that doesn’t mean everyone has it—around 31 million people in the US lack medical insurance coverage.
The reasons why people lack coverage vary. In many cases, a person loses their job, and their health insurance goes with it. A whole family can lose health insurance if only one spouse has insurance and loses their job.
In other cases, it’s income-based. More than one person has thought, “I need health insurance but I have no income. Can I even get coverage?”
If you’ve asked that question, keep reading for some of the options.
One of the most straightforward solutions to the problem of no health insurance is COBRA. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act essentially lets you stay on your old employer’s health plan for a while. The period of time is limited, typically to 18 months or 36 months.
You also get a limited amount of time to enroll. You have 60 days from when you lose your job to register and pay the premium. While it’s an easy way to keep your insurance coverage, it’s not necessarily cheap.
You must cover the total amount of the premium, which can raise your cost by as much as 80 percent.
Those who lose their jobs get a special waiver to enroll in an Affordable Care Act insurance plan for 60 days. Even if you miss that window, you can take advantage of the open enrollment period. That happens every year from November 1 until around January 15.
Some states have different enrollment dates, so make sure you check on your state’s enrollment period.
Depending on your finances, ACA plans often offer a subsidy to make the plan more affordable. This makes it a cost-conscious middle ground between COBRA and the next option.
Medicaid offers no-income health insurance and low-income health insurance at the state level. Each state sets maximum income level cutoff points, so you’ll need to check to see if you qualify.
Coverage under Medicaid is often crucial for no income or extremely low-income households because medication with no insurance can bleed you dry. Medicaid covers many common prescriptions.
Although, you can sometimes find cheaper alternatives online for prescriptions than the local pharmacy. You should always view their cost for medication before ordering anything.
Even with cheaper medication alternatives, Medicaid coverage still gives you access to doctors and regular medical care.
I Need Health Insurance but I Have No Income…Solutions Exist
Don’t feel completely discouraged if you think, “I need health insurance but I have no income.” There are solutions.
If you’re moving between jobs and need coverage for a fixed period of time, COBRA can keep you covered. It will cost a lot more, but you stay covered.
ACA coverage can help you get covered again if you lose a job won’t get coverage at your new job. Medicaid fills the gap for truly low-income and no-income households.
Looking for more health info? Check out the posts in our Health section.