A job change doesn’t have to mean losing health coverage

A job change doesn’t have to mean losing health coverage

Have you lost your job, had your hours cut, or decided you could do better on your own? Those scenarios can be scary and may require some hustle to stay afloat. But one thing you shouldn’t have to worry about is whether you can afford health insurance.

Even while you may be going through difficult times, you can have the security and peace of mind that comes with affordable health insurance. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, you can find quality coverage that fits your budget through the Health Insurance Marketplace. If you and your family qualify for Medicaid or for tax credits to help with the cost of buying insurance, you’ll find that out at the Marketplace, too.

Millions of Americans have already enrolled in affordable quality health coverage through the Marketplace. In fact, nearly seven in 10 consumers who signed up for Marketplace plans got covered for $100 a month or less after tax credits. Nearly half – 46 percent – were able to get covered for $50 a month or less.

Karen Willmus, 52, is one of those Americans who now need affordable coverage because she no longer has employer-offered insurance after recently leaving her job for an opportunity to earn more.

After struggling through the recession with unemployment and underemployment, Karen found a high school teaching job in Colorado Springs that came with health insurance – something she had done without for several years.

But while she loves teaching high school English, her family is still just getting by. Her health insurance at work costs about $470 a month. Her teenage daughter is covered through CHIP, low-cost health coverage for children in low-income families that earn too much for Medicaid.

“I had mega hours and I was always trying to scrounge $330-$400 at the end of the month. I enjoy teaching but it was a money issue,” Karen said.

Karen thought she could better provide for her family if she quit her teaching job and started her own publishing business. But that meant giving up her job-based health coverage.

“The idea of my daughter and me creating and running a publishing business was just too promising to pass up,” Karen said. “The only real problem with the plan was that the last time I had paid for health insurance as a self-employed person was in 2007 and I had to pay over $600 just for me each month.”

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, she doesn’t have to be worried about getting coverage. Even though open enrollment for the Marketplace is closed until November, Karen is eligible to enroll during a special enrollment period because she no longer has her teaching job and the insurance that came with it.

Under the law, folks with special circumstances, like people who have lost job-based insurance, had or adopted a child, or who have aged off a parent’s insurance plan at 26, may qualify for a special enrollment period, allowing them to enroll in a Marketplace plan before November’s open enrollment. Additionally, if you or your children are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP, you can enroll at any time.

You can find your options on the website, or contact the Marketplace Call Center at any time, day or night, to apply by phone. Be sure to tell the representative that you believe you qualify for a special enrollment period. Call 1-800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325).

Why wait? Check out your options today. And if you have insurance, check out these resources to help you understand your benefits and make the most of your health coverage.