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Unemployment & finding health insurance coverage

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Unemployment and finding the right health insurance coverage

Unemployment rates reached a record high in April of 2020 and despite falling since, they have remained stubbornly above pre-pandemic averages.footnoteWith health coverage being tied to employment in the US, this has left many people trying to figure out next steps to keep medical coverage during the pandemic. Below are some options to consider.

If you're under age 26 and either of your parents has insurance through their job, you may be able to go on their insurance plan. To see if this is an option for you, call your parents. You know they want to hear from you anyway!

If you're married and your spouse has coverage through work, you may be able to join their insurance plan. You'll have to follow their network and referral policies, which may mean switching doctors. To see if this is an option for you, talk to your partner.

If you have a chronic medical condition or would prefer not to change doctors, consider signing up for your company’s Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) option. COBRA allows you to maintain your current insurance coverage for up to 18 months after your job loss. This means you can continue to see all your same doctors because your plan hasn’t changed. However, this plan may be very expensive as you'll be asked to pay up to 102% of the cost of the plan (the premium). If you have a health savings account (HSA), COBRA premiums are qualified expenses, so you can use your HSA to help buffer the cost. To learn more about COBRA, visit

If COBRA is too expensive or you’re open to switching doctors, you may be able to purchase insurance through the Affordable Care Act exchanges. The Biden Administration has reopened open enrollment in the exchanges until May 18.footnote2 This means you may be able to sign up on the exchanges now without a qualifying event.footnote2 You’ll have many plan and cost options but you may have to switch networks and doctors. The cost will likely be more than joining a spouse or parent’s plan but less than COBRA. To explore the exchanges, visit

If you're concerned about cost and experienced a decrease in household income, you may qualify for your state Medicaid program. You can contact your state Medicaid agency to see if you are eligible for Medicaid. These plans are funded by the state and federal governments and have lower premiums and out-of-pocket costs. To learn more about the program and check your eligibility, visit