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Q

Will Obamacare provide me with health insurance coverage if I lose my job?

A

Obamacare, a nickname for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), doesn't provide free health insurance coverage. But a number of measures in the law are designed to make it easier for people to qualify for and pay for health insurance.

But first, let's consider another landmark federal law, the Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act (COBRA). This law, passed in 1986, lets families continue coverage through employer-sponsored health plans after loss of a job, death or divorce. So if you lost your job, you could continue coverage under your employer's health plan by electing COBRA continuation coverage. The downside of COBRA coverage is its cost. The employer no longer foots the bill for any of the premium; you pay the entire tab.

Another option if you lost your job would be to shop for an individual health insurance plan. Health insurers can't deny coverage or charge you higher premiums because of your health condition. Before the ACA, insurance companies could charge you huge premiums or reject a plan because of pre-existing conditions. 

To help people afford coverage, the federal government provides subsidies for those who meet certain income requirements, such as having an annual income at 400 percent of the federal poverty level or less ($100,400 for a family of four). The government helps by providing tax cuts or subsidies to insurance companies to keep down costs for premiums and out-of-pocket costs for lower-income people. 

The law also calls for expanding the eligibility requirements for Medicaid, the federal and state health insurance program. Three-dozen states expanded Medicaid, which gives that option to Americans with incomes 138 percent of the federal poverty level or less ($34,638 for a family of four).

Last updated: Nov. 19, 2018
Ask the Insurance Expert
Penny Gusner Consumer Analyst
Penny Gusner has been working in the insurance business for more than 10 years. She researches your questions, from the routine to the bizarre, with equal enthusiasm. Read More

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