If you’re unemployed you may be able to get an affordable health insurance plan through the Marketplace, with savings based on your income and household size. You may also qualify for free or low-cost coverage through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Your household size and income, not your employment status, determine what health coverage you’re eligible for and how much help you’ll get paying for coverage.
If you just lost your job and your job-based insurance
If you have just left your job for any reason and lost your job-based health coverage, you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. This means you can enroll in a Marketplace insurance plan any time of year. You usually have 60 days from the day you lose your coverage to enroll. Learn how to apply for a Special Enrollment Period.
There is no limited enrollment period for Medicaid or CHIP. If you qualify, you can enroll in these programs any time of year. You’ll find out if you qualify when you fill out your Marketplace application. In addition, short-term health insurance plans could be your best option. These plans are cost efficient and provide great coverage.
Your options depend on your household income
When you apply for Marketplace coverage you’ll estimate your income for the current calendar year.
How to estimate your income if you’re unemployed
It’s hard to predict your annual income if you’re unemployed. Still, it’s important to make your best estimate based on all current or expected sources of income for the year.
Types of income to include on your application:
All household members’ income (not just yours)
Additional types of income, including interest income, capital gains, cash support, and alimony
Most withdrawals from traditional IRAs and 401ks. (But see IRS Form 8606 instructions (PDF) for information on non-deductible contributions, and IRS Publication 590-B (PDF) for information on Roth accounts.)
Note: It’s very important to immediately look for new health insurance plans if your income changes during the year. This will ensure you get the right amount of savings based on your new annual income estimate.