ACA: Navigating Health Insurance Options After Job Loss

Losing your job can be a stressful experience, especially when it means losing your health insurance coverage. Fortunately, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) offers options to help you maintain access to affordable health insurance.

What is the ACA?

The ACA, also known as Obamacare, is a federal law that expanded health insurance coverage to millions of Americans. It provides subsidies to make health insurance more affordable for low- and middle-income individuals and families.


When you lose job-based health insurance, you have two main options:

COBRA: COBRA allows you to continue your former employer’s health plan for up to 18 months. However, you will be responsible for paying the full cost of the premiums, which can be expensive.
ACA Marketplace: The ACA Marketplace is an online platform where you can purchase health insurance plans from private insurers. These plans may be more affordable than COBRA, especially if you qualify for subsidies.

Eligibility and Enrollment

To qualify for ACA Marketplace coverage, you must meet certain requirements, including:

Being a U.S. citizen or legal resident
Not having access to affordable employer-sponsored health insurance
Not being eligible for Medicare or Medicaid

To enroll in an ACA Marketplace plan, you must apply during the Open Enrollment Period, which typically runs from November 1 to January 15. You can also apply for coverage during a Special Enrollment Period if you experience a qualifying life event, such as losing job-based health insurance.

Important Considerations

Cost: ACA Marketplace plans vary in cost depending on your age, location, and income. If you qualify for subsidies, your premiums may be significantly lower.
Coverage: ACA Marketplace plans must cover a comprehensive range of essential health benefits, including hospitalization, primary care, prescription drugs, and mental health care.
Enrollment deadlines: It’s important to note that there are deadlines for ACA enrollment. If you miss the Open Enrollment Period or Special Enrollment Period, you may have to wait until the next Open Enrollment Period to apply for coverage.

Steps to Take After Losing Job-Based Health Insurance

1. Contact your employer: Inform your employer that you are terminating your employment and inquire about your COBRA options.
2. Explore ACA Marketplace plans: Visit the ACA Marketplace website at or call a licensed agent to learn about your coverage options and eligibility for subsidies.
3. Compare COBRA and ACA: Evaluate the costs and benefits of both COBRA and ACA Marketplace plans to determine the best option for your circumstances.
4. Enroll in a plan: If you decide to enroll in an ACA Marketplace plan, apply during the Open Enrollment Period or Special Enrollment Period.
5. Seek assistance: If you need help navigating the ACA enrollment process or have questions about your eligibility, contact a licensed agent who specializes in health insurance.

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