How to Get Health Insurance With No Job

Health Insurance Provider

Admittedly, getting health insurance with no job is a stretch. Why? Because no job implies no income, and health insurance companies aren’t in the business of giving away free coverage. However, there are instances when jobless people can get free or very inexpensive coverage. Also, alternatives to “normal” health insurance can sometimes save big time on “normal” premiums. Let’s explore some of these options.

Options for Jobless College Graduates

Get coverage under your parent’s plan.

According to Go Ask Alice, The Affordable Care Act of 2010 currently allows young adults to be covered under their parents’ or guardians’ insurance plan(s) up to the age of 26 if they are not eligible for employment-based coverage. Starting in 2014, young adults will have the option to remain on their parents’ or guardians’ plan(s) up to the age of 26 regardless of employment-based eligibility.

Try a continuation of your school’s health insurance plan.

This option varies from college to college, but it is worth checking on. Michigan State University, for example, allows graduates who meet necessary requirements to continue coverage for up to nine months at a premium payment of 25% above the prevailing student premium.

Options for Anyone Who is Jobless


COBRA is an acronym for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, which requires employers to extend the same health care benefits provided to current employees to those employees who lose their jobs. Because the unemployed worker will need to pay the full premium, including the portion his former employer paid, COBRA can be quite pricey.

High Deductible Health Insurance

If unemployment is causing you to consider dropping your health insurance altogether, you should first consider raising your deductible amount. Doing so will not only lower your premiums dramatically, but will also keep you covered for catastrophic events. According to some quotes my own agent prepared, a healthy 40-year-old male who pays $368.92 monthly for $250 deductible health insurance could lower those premiums to $152.35 by raising his annual deductible to $3,500.

Spiritually-Based Options

Samaritan Ministries or Medi-Share

Both of these organizations are based on the Biblical principle of Christians meeting each other’s needs; neither is an insurance company. Each requires a membership and a monthly commitment, which will be applied directly to another member’s health care needs – the concept being that believers help others as they are able and receive help when they have needs. Both emphasize the importance of prayer as well as money for members in need. Medi-Share began in 1993; Samaritan Ministries in 1994.

Both of these organizations claim substantial savings when compared to conventional health insurance companies and each has its own fee structure, with a variety of options. Their websites give substantial information, so do your homework if you are considering either of these. Read our review of Medi-Share for more thoughts.

Become Amish or Mennonite

According to the Wall Street Journal, Old Order Amish and Mennonites believe that, in lieu of purchasing health insurance, it is the religious duty of their communities to provide for one another when sick. They don’t pay Social Security taxes and reject Medicaid or Medicare benefits, as well as farm subsidies. Of course, joining either group for the purpose of saving on health insurance premiums would not be an ethical decision, but if one is considering the simple life anyway, it may be worth considering.

Health Insurance for Senior Citizens or Disabled Citizens

Medicare and Medicaid

These two government programs provide medical and health-related services to specific groups of people in the United States. Medicare is a social insurance program while Medicaid is a social welfare program.

Medicare, basically available for U.S. citizens aged 65 or older or disabled U.S. citizens at any age, will pay for basic hospital, home care or nursing home care.  However, a supplemental policy is needed for other health care needs such as physician visits or pharmaceutical needs.

Medicaid, a means tested health and medical services program for certain low income individuals and families, has state specific eligibility requirements.

One Final Thought

Regardless of the health insurance you carry, your health is ultimately your responsibility. Therefore, your best insurance for good health – for the rest of your life – is to do what you know you should be doing: exercise and eat right.

How have you been able to save on health insurance? Do you have any additional ideas how jobless people can get health insurance? Leave a comment!

Ready to Quit Living Paycheck-to-Paycheck?

Just click to join 163,000+ others and take our FREE email course to better manage your money, pay off debt, and save!

  1. China Newz

    If you quit smoking before you get an individual policy you can also lower your premiums. It may be tough to do, but you will save a little money in the long run.

    • Joe Plemon

      Good tip, not only for the lower insurance premium, but also because quitting smoking pays huge health benefit premiums. Some policies, I am sure, will require a former smoker to be smoke-free for a certain time period, but all the more reason to quit now. By the way, I speak as a former smoker.

    • joe

      Some or all doctors will not do optional procedures if you smoke.

      I’m not saying go and smoke, but I think that is over the top.

      I have yet heard of any health fix that failed because the patient smoked.

      I know a guy that had dental implants in the jaw bone and he smoked.

      That is like the 12 oz cup in NY to cut down on obesity. I don’t think 4 oz less will make a difference. I’m sure people will buy 2 cups.

      At our institute days, they used to give us 4 ounce cups for coffee. I guess to cut down on trips to the washroom that caused us to walk out of meeting for a while. I brought my own 16 ounce cup that was about 10 ounces too much for me.

  2. joe

    Please read if you or your spouse is 65.

    Under terms of my public service pension, I kept my medical insurance for 5 years, Humana. Then the “no brainer” was to go to the State of IL insurance that was supposed to be subsidized by the state, CIGNA. I took the best insurance, PPO type, for myself and my non-working outside the home wife. This includes prescription coverage. The premium was $1,050 and went up to $1,100 a month in less than a year. I was covered under Medicare and my wife was not for the first year. She needed back surgery and Humana OK’d it. However, the date of surgery came after I had to switch to CIGNA. CIGNA denied surgery. Want physical therapy and no MRI. Physical therapy made things worse. She turned 65, got Medicare, and CIGNA now had to follow Medicare guide lines. She received an MRI the same day it was requested. She had surgery and rehab. All health care providers are eager once you have Medicare. No 3 week delay waiting for approval. A world of difference as Medicare takes the doctor at his word, while CIGNA has all kinds of games.

    CIGNA is very expensive coverage and it is subsidized????

    Now CIGNA as supplemental is about $500 a month. I’ve not received the bill for Medicare yet, but it is supposed to be around $200 a month.

    By all means, be sure you qualify for Medicare. It is a big bank for your buck.

    • Joe Plemon

      Wow. Thanks for the “word to the wise”. This being said, I am guessing that the CIGNA policy which covered your wife before she went on Medicare probably stated that it would require physical therapy before paying for any recommended back surgeries. At any rate, I am glad your wife was able to get the surgery she needed.

    • joe

      Exactly right.

      If you really want an eye opener, get the 9/12 Reader’s Digest, “Why Hospitals Cost so Much.” You will be astounded.

      I believe the insurance was stalling, knowing she had about a year to go until Medicare.

      The stalls created more problems and ended up costing CIGNA more money even with Medicare. Of course, a lot more pain for my wife.

      The doctors all warned of the games insurance companies play.

    • joe

      I believe you are correct. I read that some place.

      I would be for socialized medicine if I had any confidence they would run it right. We shall see.

      Medicare will not buy the white cane with the white tip for a blind man. I heard that from a social worker.

      Here is another word to the wise. My wife has a Medicare card that says A and B. I got a letter saying she was late paying. There were 2 address on the letter. Where does the money go? I called. After 90 minutes on the phone, I got a 3RD address to sent the money.

      Then another letter from Medicare came a few days later saying she was late that amount again and wanted payment for all of 2013. I thought it was pretty cheap and then I noticed that the bill was only for B and NOT for A. When the first check clears, I will print it out, ad a copy of her SS card that says A and B and ask for a corrected bill.

      Ordinarily, this would not be a concern, but the way they screw things up, I fear the payments made won’t be credited and she will lose coverage. An appointment to SS takes 3 weeks and I’ve done that already to set it up right 6 months ago, which it was not.

      I was also on the phone for “Easy pay.” There they take it out directly out of my checking account so I am never late. After 2 weeks, I’m still waiting for the form.

      The other pain is that I could have used that money as a deduction in 2012, but it is already too late. Ah, love the government.

  3. Timothy Wright


    If you have a preexisting medical condition, your dead! No one wants you and you can’t afford it if they do! Even the Christian ones!

    • joe

      True in a lot of cases, but with Medicare, there are no questions asked. If you retire from public service, there are no questions asked.

      If you start switching companies, be sure to find out what the qualifications are before switching.

    • Joe Plemon

      Timothy — The Affordable Health Care Act has provisions which will require insurance companies to cover those with pre-existing conditions. I am not sure, but I think this will become effective in 2014.

    • joe

      I believe you are correct. I read that some place.

      I would be for socialized medicine if I had any confidence they would run it right. We shall see.

      Medicare will not buy the white cane with the white tip for a blind man. I heard that from a social worker.

  4. Rosey

    We still have our son in college on our insurance, but I know the time is going to come when he needs to find his own, but I hadn’t even thought of it until I stopped by here today! thanks for the post!

    • Joe Plemon

      Rosey — yes, your son can benefit from the Affordable Care Act. Hopefully, he will be able to acquire his own health insurance, but the fall back is to be covered under your policy up to age 26.

  5. Joan

    Good post! I am on my husbands health plan. We pay $5100 a year for health insurance with a deduct of $350 each and the plan is 85/15. We have $2K put into the tax free health savings plan. We still pay $20 copay for regular drs and $30 for specialists. We get by but it is tough but what do you do? It is frustrating all the money we pay out of pocket even after all is said and done the balance due from drs of 15% is still a balance to pay out of pocket. I’d love to be able to shop around for insurance with no state to state requirements. I’ve got posts on my site about money saving tips to look at too.

  6. Christine

    Seriously? Become Amish? Let’s consider some more realistic options.

    1. Check out the alumni association of the college you attended for benefits extended to alumni. You may be able to access a low-cost health insurance through their programs for at least a year to bridge a gap between jobs.

    2. Join professional socieities and organizations in your career field. If you’re not already there for the networking opportunities in your field and to stay current on trends, some of these also offer low-cost health insurance options (for at least a year) to active members.

    3. If you’re looking for something for a month or two until insurance kicks in at a new position, contact your car/home insurance company. They may offer an accident/emergency policy at lower cost than COBRA just to get you through. (Just be aware that if you’re eligible for COBRA and don’t sign up during the initial period, you may lose access to that option.)

    • Joe Plemon

      Christine- thanks for giving us more great tips … more realistic (as you say) than becoming Amish. 🙂

  7. Another option to consider is to take advantage of your spouse’s plan at work. Employers make at least a nominal contribution towards the premium, so you have that cost advantage.

    Loss of employment is a qualifying life event, which provides several advantages. The group is required to allow a change in elections during the middle of the plan year, and the insurance plan is required to take on a new participant. There is no medical underwriting required, and pre-existing conditions are covered with no waiting period provided there is no gap in coverage of 63 days or longer.

    Of course this applies only to married couples, where the spouse’s employer provides group health insurance.

    • Joe Plemon

      Kevin — Great information! I didn’t realize the advantages of the “qualifying life event”. No medical underwriting and the coverage of pre-existing conditions could be huge.

  8. Dee

    I am, quite frankly, stunned and appalled by the “Amish or Mennonite” option. Do you not understand that these are *denominations*? Would you recommend someone become a Presbyterian in order to get free wine at communion? Or why not recommend we become Muslim simply to practice modesty? The fact that you treat other belief systems so expediently would suggest that your own is also pretty devoid of conviction. >:o(

    • Calvin

      I agree with you, Dee. This is highly disrespectful.

    • Joe Plemon

      Dee — Evidently, I did not do a good job of communicating what I was trying to say. I have both Amish and Mennonite friends whom I admire greatly, especially with their stance of taking care of others in their community. I think all of us can learn from them.

      You are correct in saying that joining a denomination for the purpose of taking advantage of the “perks” would be appallingly shallow, but I am not recommending anyone do so. To the contrary, my article stated, “Of course, joining either group for the purpose of saving on health insurance premiums would not be an ethical decision, but if one is considering the simple life anyway, it may be worth considering.”

      Still, I could have and should have done a better job of thinking this through. I thank you for pointing it out.

  9. joe

    The original was clear enough for me.

  10. Dee

    Joe Plemon,

    I think by virtue of listing them in an article entitled “How to Get Health Insurance with No Job” you have stated that it should be considered as one method of doing so. If you were merely discussing a specific aspect of a belief system, it had no place in this article and would have been better placed in an article discussing that belief system. It is akin to saying in an article entitled “How to Cook Fig Leaves” that one should “become Greek.”

    Besides it was redundant. If one is Amish or Mennonite one already knows that aspect of their lifestyle; and if one is a typical evangelical Christian in America (which is what this blog seems to target) you had already listed “Spiritually Based Options” which is the same for those who are not Amish or Mennonite. The fact that this was stated just prior to “Become Amish or Mennonite” lends credence to the fact that this was in fact intended as merely another option to consider for this purpose.