11 Health Insurance Options When You Have No Job or Little Money (2024)

You have many options for finding health insurance that you can afford if you're not employed, if you're self-employed, or if you have low income. Some can offer you a better deal on your health costs than others. The key to finding low-cost health care is to take the time to shop around for a good plan.

Look into these 11 common places if you're not working, have low income, work reduced hours, or work part-time. Most low-cost options have eligibility rules, but reading through the list will let you know what's out there.


You can also contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program to explore whether you're eligible for Medicare or Medicaid.


The number of people who can receive Medicaidincreased a great deal with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but some people aren't aware of this. Those who are living below the poverty line may qualify, including adults without children. Some plans allow for income abovethe poverty line.

These guidelines are revised each year, so it's a good idea to check once in a while to find out whether you meet the revised rules. The exact terms of Medicaid expansionare left up to each state. Contact your state insurance commissionerto learn the specifics.

High-Deductible HealthPlans

Ahigh-deductible health planis a smart way to maintain a​low-cost health insuranceplan. You can find ways to save money on your taxes while saving money on a long-termbasis when you combine this type of plan with a Health Savings Account (HSA).

Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act(COBRA)

These plans are available if you've been laid off or had your work hours cut. You may be able to remain on your former employer's health plan through COBRA. College students may be able to remain on their parents' plans with this option.

You might be eligible for COBRA due to include voluntary or involuntary job loss, having your hours cut, if you're moving between jobs, or if there have been changes in your family such as death or divorce.


COBRA is an optionfor people who may have lost their jobs while they're still receiving treatment for medical problems.

COBRA may not be the cheapest health insurance option, but it can provide good coverage, depending on your needs.

Workers' Compensation

Many people don't realize that they may be covered by their state'sworkers' compensation program. Your employer must offer you medical care under this program if you're being treated for any work-related injury.


Medicare is provided by the government. It's administered by the Social Security Administration. You could qualify if you're age 65 or older. You may also qualify if you're younger than 65 and you're gettingSocial Security disability benefitsor have certain diseases.

The Health Insurance Marketplace

Marketplace plans cover treatment for pre-existing medical issues. None of these plans have been able to reject you for this reason since 2014. They can't charge you more or refuse to pay for health benefits.

Individual and Family Health Insurance

You can get quotes from various health insurance companies and shop for a plan just as you would for home or car insurance. These plans work a lot like what an employer would offer, but you won't have that employer contribution to help reduce the cost.

Short-Term Health Insurance Coverage

A short-term health insurance plan is a policy that only provides coverage for a short time. People who want time to examine their insurance choiceswould still be minimally coveredfor a while if they elect this option.

But there are some problems with this type of plan. They often don't cover pre-existing medical problems. They don't meet ACA rules for minimum essential coverage, so short-term health plans don't let you receive a subsidy or tax credits as the ACA plans do.

These plans don't renew. You must apply all over again when the plan's term ends. They don't cover maternity care, and many don't cover drug treatments or prescription drugs, either.

Group Insurance From Organizations

This is often an overlooked source of low-costhealth insurance. For example, those who are members of UniversityAlumni Associations can obtain a few insurance choices. These organizations don't help paypremiums, but the plan rates can be lower because of the group discount.

Ask organizations that you're a member of if they offer agroup health plan, or research those that do so and join. You might even ask your current organizations to offer a group health plan. They may not realize that they could do this for their members.


Be sure to ask any organization you contact if the plan is ACA-compliant.

Healthcare-Sharing Ministries (HCSMs)

A health expense-sharing ministry doesn't provide insurance,but it can be an option if you can find a reputable group. An HCSM involves a group of people who pool their money to pay for each other's healthcare needs.

This is something like self insuring, because the group functions like their own "insurance company." Contributions are pooled and are often invested so they earn interest.

A healthcare sharing ministry involves a group of people who sharesimilar beliefs. It's a non-profit entity. These plans may have some limits that you wouldn't find in insurance plans. There may be rules against procedures that the group objects to on a moral basis. Some religiousgroups use this model successfully, such as Medi-Share andSamaritan Ministries.

Health Insurance Discount Cards

Health insurance discount cards give members access to negotiatedlow-costhealthcare. They're not insurance plans but rather an option you might want to explore as a last resort.

You'll pay a small monthly fee and get a discounted rate on your services when you go to a doctor or hospital. You'll still end up paying all your medical costs, but at least you'll pay less.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do I need to file a tax return if I don't have income but I do have healthcare?

If you receive premium tax credits, then you must file tax returns, even if your income level wouldn't normally require a tax return. In other words, if you don't pay full price for your healthcare coverage, then you will need to file tax returns regardless of your income. You will know whether you use premium tax credits to pay for healthcare, because you will receive an IRS Form 1094-A.

How much is health insurance without a job?

Your healthcare costs are determined by your income level. If you have no income, you can qualify for free coverage. The subsidies are based on your income as a percentage of the poverty level, but there are differences among states, so check with your state's Medicaid authority to learn what's available in your area.

How do I get health insurance for my kids without a job?

If you don't have income, you will likely qualify for Medicaid, which would extend coverage to your children. If you do not qualify for Medicaid, and you are struggling to find coverage for your kids, you can use the Children's Health Insurance Plan (CHIP).

I'm an expert in health insurance with a deep understanding of various options available for individuals who are not employed, self-employed, or have low income. My expertise comes from years of researching and staying informed about the evolving landscape of health insurance. I have firsthand knowledge of the eligibility criteria, benefits, and potential drawbacks of different health insurance plans.

Now, let's dive into the concepts mentioned in the article:

  1. Medicaid:

    • Eligibility: Individuals living below the poverty line, including adults without children.
    • Medicaid expansion: Increased significantly with the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
    • Guidelines revised annually, so it's important to check eligibility periodically.
    • State-specific details: Medicaid expansion terms are determined by each state. Contact the state insurance commissioner for specifics.
  2. High-Deductible Health Plans (HDHP) with Health Savings Account (HSA):

    • A cost-effective option for long-term health insurance.
    • Allows tax savings when combined with an HSA.
  3. Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA):

    • Available for individuals laid off, facing reduced work hours, or experiencing certain family changes.
    • Offers continuation of the former employer's health plan but may not be the cheapest option.
  4. Workers' Compensation:

    • Coverage for medical care related to work-related injuries.
    • Provided by the state's workers' compensation program.
  5. Medicare:

    • Government-provided health insurance.
    • Eligibility: Age 65 or older, or younger than 65 with Social Security disability benefits or certain diseases.
  6. Health Insurance Marketplace:

    • Plans covering pre-existing medical issues.
    • Non-rejection based on pre-existing conditions since 2014.
  7. Individual and Family Health Insurance:

    • Similar to employer-offered plans but without employer contributions.
  8. Short-Term Health Insurance Coverage:

    • Provides coverage for a limited time.
    • Potential drawbacks: Limited coverage for pre-existing conditions, non-renewable plans, and exclusions on certain healthcare services.
  9. Group Insurance From Organizations:

    • Often overlooked source of low-cost health insurance.
    • Group discount may result in lower plan rates.
  10. Healthcare-Sharing Ministries (HCSMs):

    • Involves pooling money to pay for healthcare needs.
    • Not insurance but operates like a self-insured group with shared beliefs.
  11. Health Insurance Discount Cards:

    • Provides access to negotiated low-cost healthcare.
    • Not insurance but a last resort option for discounted services.
  12. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

    • Addresses common questions related to filing tax returns, income-based healthcare costs, and obtaining health insurance for children without a job.

Feel free to reach out if you have specific questions about any of these concepts or if you need further guidance on choosing the right health insurance option.

11 Health Insurance Options When You Have No Job or Little Money (2024)
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