- The Marketplace and You
What are my health coverage options if I’m unemployed?
If you’re unemployed you may qualify for Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or lower costs on Marketplace insurance based on your income.
Your options depend on your household income
Your household size and income, not your employment status, will determine what health coverage options you’re eligible for and how much help you get paying for coverage.
When you apply for Marketplace coverage you will estimate your income for the year.
Learn about how to estimate your income.
Your health coverage options
Based on your income, you may qualify for any of the following:
Medicaid. Medicaid provides coverage to millions of Americans with limited incomes or disabilities. Each state’s Medicaid rules are different. Many states have expanded Medicaid to cover more people. You can apply for Medicaid in your state now to see if you are eligible. Or you can fill out a Marketplace application to find out if you will qualify in your state.
Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CHIP provides coverage for children, and in some states pregnant women, in families with incomes too high for Medicaid but too low to afford private insurance. You can apply for CHIP in your state right now to find out if you’re eligible. Or you can fill out a Marketplace application to find out if you’re eligible.
Lower costs on Marketplace insurance. You may qualify for lower costs for monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs on private insurance based on your household size and income. Some people with very low incomes may wind up paying very small premiums. You can apply for Marketplace insurance now.
More Answers: Health Coverage and the Unemployed
If I make withdrawals from my IRA or 401k, does this count as income?
It depends on the kind of account you’re withdrawing from. Generally, the amount of your income from a retirement account distribution depends on the type of retirement account, how much you contributed to it, and whether you were already taxed on the amount you contributed.
Withdrawals from a traditional IRA or SEP-IRA generally count as income. (If you made only tax-deductible contributions, all of it is considered income. If you made non-deductible contributions, see IRS Form 8606.)
Roth IRAs are different. Qualified withdrawals from a Roth IRA are not considered income. For more information, see IRS Publication 590.
Withdrawals from a 401k plan are generally counted as income (your pre-tax contributions, an employer’s matching contributions, as well as earnings, are included in income). But qualified distributions from a designated Roth account in a 401(k) plan are not considered income. For more information, see IRS publication 575.
What if I am unemployed but my spouse works?
Your household income is used to determine whether you qualify for Medicaid, CHIP, or lower costs on Marketplace coverage. So you’ll need to count your spouse’s income when you fill out your application.
Information about any job-based coverage that is available to you and your family also affects whether you qualify for lower costs on Marketplace coverage.
If you’re eligible for coverage under a family member’s plan but don’t enroll in it, you may not be able to get lower costs on Marketplace coverage based on your income. This will depend on whether the job-based insurance is considered affordable and meets certain minimum standards.
You can learn whether the plan is considered affordable and meets minimum standards by filling out an Employer Coverage Tool. You can use information from this completed form to fill out your application.
Having access to job-based coverage doesn’t impact your eligibility for Medicaid.
If your family member’s job-based coverage isn’t offered to spouses or dependents, you can qualify for lower costs. Only the person with the job- based coverage won’t qualify for lower costs on Marketplace insurance.
What if I get a job after I have Marketplace coverage?
If you get a job and are offered a job-based health plan you should tell the Marketplace. You can cancel your Marketplace plan or keep it. But if you keep it you may not be able to get lower costs on Marketplace insurance based on your income. This will depend on whether the job-based plan is considered affordable and meets certain minimum standards. If you enroll in the job-based plan, you can’t get any savings on Marketplace insurance.
If your new job does not offer insurance, you can keep your Marketplace plan. You may qualify for lower costs based on your household size and income.
When your situation changes, update your Marketplace information and adjustments will be made.
What if I can’t afford coverage in the Marketplace?
If you feel that any Marketplace coverage is unaffordable and you don’t qualify for other exemptions, you can apply for a hardship exemption. If you get an exemption, you don’t have to pay the fine paid by other people who do not have health insurance. Read more about exemptions.
If I’m unemployed, will I have to pay a fine if I don’t have insurance?
Like other Americans, you will need to have minimum essential coverage or pay a fine. There are several exemptions that apply to people who do not have income or have very low incomes. Learn about exemptions from the fine.
How do I estimate my income if I don’t know whether I’ll have a job?
When you complete a Marketplace application, you’ll need to predict your income the best you can. The application will help you make this estimate. If your income turns out to be different from what you estimate, you’ll need to update your Marketplace information.
If you buy a Marketplace plan and then make less than you estimated, you may qualify for lower costs than you originally got. You’ll get a refund for the difference.
If you buy a Marketplace plan, pay lower premium costs based on your income, and wind up making more money than you thought, you may have to pay back some of the savings.
How can I get health care if I have no insurance and no income?
The health care law has expanded funding of community health centers, which provide primary care to millions of Americans for free or on a sliding scale based on income. Learn about community health centers.
Does unemployment compensation count as income?