Can I get Health Insurance Without a Job

Individual and Family

Can I get Health Insurance Without a Job

Published on June 10, 2019


The simple answer: no, you do not need a job to get health insurance. If you’re hoping to get group health insurance, then the answer is yes, you do need to have an employer or else be the owner of a business with at least one employee. But if you’re shopping for individual or family health insurance, your employment status will n not prevent you from getting coverage.
If you are unemployed, your employer doesn’t offer health insurance, or you do not qualify for benefits offered at your job, you still have a few health insurance coverage options:

  • Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP
  • Affordable Care Act (ACA) insurance
  • Individual or family health insurance

The majority of Americans do get their health insurance through their employer. According to a 2017 survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) about half (49%) of Americans get employee sponsored health insurance.
Employer vs non-group insurance
[2017 kff Survey Data]
But just because you’re in the minority doesn’t mean that finding health insurance that’s right for you, your situation, and your budget has to be hard or expensive.


If you lose your health benefits, you may qualify for COBRA which allows you to continue group health benefits provided by your group plan for limited period time.
Circumstances that may trigger COBRA are:

  • Job loss
  • Reduction in hours that cause a loss in coverage
  • Divorce or separation from a covered employee
  • The death of a covered employee
  • The employee becomes entitled to Medicare
  • The death of a covered employee
  • Or a dependent of a covered employee ceases to be a dependent under the terms of the plan (an adult child turning 26, for example)

If you’ve experienced any of these you may be eligible for COBRA.
However, with COBRA you will have to pay the total premium, rather than split it with your former employer. With group insurance, your employer typically pays the majority of the bill; according to the KFF the employer paid about 82% of the premium for single coverage and 71% for family coverage. You will have to pay 100% of the premium with COBRA.
After one of these qualifying events, you’ll usually have 60 days to decide whether or not you’ll opt into your former employer’s COBRA benefits.

Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP

Depending on how hold you are, if you have children, and what your income is you may be eligible for government health insurance programs.
You may be eligible for Medicare if you are 65 or older (even if you’re not ready to retire), a younger person with a disability, or have End-Stage Renal Disease.
If you are a low-income person or family you may be eligible for Medicaid. If you are a low-income family with children you may be eligible for CHIP.

ACA insurance

Obamacare is another option you have if you make too much money per year to qualify for Medicaid or CHIP.
These plans are what you can find on the government Marketplace or your state’s health insurance exchanges, depending on where you live. ACA compliant plans are required to cover 10 basic benefits:

  • Care before and after a child is born
  • Preventative visits
  • Outpatient services
  • Emergency room visits
  • Inpatient care (care in hospital)
  • Prescription drugs
  • Mental health and substance use disorder services
  • Lab services
  • Pediatric services, including oral and vision care
  • Rehabilitative and facilitative services

Individual private health insurance

Individual private health insurance is just industry jargon for a plan you buy yourself off of a non-government exchange.
Shopping on private exchange, like eHealth, allows you to have more variety in your coverage options. You have the option of shopping for ACA plans like on the Marketplace or state exchanges, and you’ll even be able to apply for subsidies through eHealth by proxy. If you find that subsidies aren’t an option for you, and the fully-loaded ACA plans are too expensive, you’ll also be able to shop for alternative individual and family plans that may offer less benefits, but be within in your price range.

Short term health insurance

One option for people looking for a temporary, affordable solution is short term health insurance. If you’re experiencing a short lapse in coverage due to job loss or ineligibility for benefits, a short term health insurance plan may be a good option for you.
Short term health insurance plans are meant to help you bridge gaps in your health insurance coverage, until you can find a more long-term solution. They tend to be much cheaper than major medical health insurance premiums, however they do not have the same level of coverage.
If you decide that short term health insurance coverage is for you or are looking to shop for health insurance through a private marketplace, then enter your zip code on this page to start browsing coverage through eHealth.

We’ll let you know when we publish anything new.