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Using Only Supplemental Insurance between Jobs

You never know when the unexpected could happen and you lose your job-based health insurance. If you ever find yourself in this situation, you might be thinking, “Should I get a supplemental insurance plan?”

However, the idea of solely purchasing a supplemental health insurance plan is a common misconception.


If you have lost your basic health care coverage, there are multiple options you have to make sure you and your loved ones are protected when you’re between jobs.

What is a Supplemental Insurance Plan

When it comes to life insurance claims, however, that information is usually not part of public record 2.

A supplemental insurance plan is an add-on insurance policy that can be purchased to help cover the costs of services and out-of-pocket expenses beyond what is included in your basic health insurance plan. It’s designed to be used in addition to a current primary insurance plan.

If you have lost your basic health care coverage, there are multiple options you have to make sure you and your loved ones are protected when you’re between jobs.

Option 1: Buy a Plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace

Losing your job-based insurance automatically qualifies you to purchase a Marketplace plan during a Special Enrollment Period. If you’re considering buying this type of plan, you’re able to get coverage on the first day of the month after you lose your insurance, even if it’s outside of the annual Open Enrollment Period. The first step you’d want to take is to create an account and preview options and prices before purchasing a Marketplace plan. Once you fill out an application, you’ll discover whether you qualify for savings on monthly premiums and other out-of-pocket costs. You can choose a health insurance plan that best suits your needs.

Option 2: Sign Up for Individual Insurance and ACA Exchanges

If you no longer have employer-sponsored coverage, another option you may consider is an individual health insurance plan. Benefits covered by group and individual plans may differ, depending on the number of employees. If your individual or group plans cover fewer than 50 full-time employees, you’ll be covered by the same 10 essential health benefits.

Unlike the traditional employer-sponsored insurance, you’ll now be able to shop for and choose a plan that best covers the needs of you and your loved ones. Once you find a plan that best suits your needs, your next step would be to purchase a plan and make all monthly premium payments on your own. This health insurance option gives you the ability to know and manage all of your own health coverage and benefits.

You can get an individual, also known as non-group insurance, plan either as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges or off of them. ACA plans are divided into four metal levels, each level depending on the cost of premiums, the cost covered by the insurer, and the price the member will pay. They are made up of the following levels:

  • Bronze: The insurance health plan pays an average of 60%
  • Silver: The insurance health plan pays an average of 70%
  • Gold: The insurance health plan pays an average of 80%
  • 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central
  • Platinum: The insurance health plan pays an average of 90%

In other words, you’ll be able to pay lower premiums with a Bronze plan, but your out-of-pocket costs will be higher than the other plans. However, if you chose a Platinum plan, it would have the highest premiums, but lowest out-of-pocket costs.

Option 3: Purchase a Short-Term Health Care Plan

If you’re looking for a low-cost option to bridge the gap between jobs, a short-term health care plan could be the best option for you. However, while costs are lower, this type of coverage is limited, with plans lasting up until three years. Additionally, out-of-pocket costs can be steep. Short-term health plans are exempt from ACA regulations too, meaning they aren’t required to provide the 10 essential health benefits. Hence, they might not cover certain health services, which means you’d have to pay for them out-of-pocket.

Option 4: Enroll in Coverage through COBRA

COBRA is a federal plan that may let you remain on your employee health insurance for a limited amount of time after you lose your job (typically, about 18 months). You’ll be required to pay the full premium yourself, as well as a small administrative fee.

If you decide not to participate in COBRA coverage, you can opt to enroll in a Marketplace plan. You’ll automatically qualify for a Special Enrollment period, even if it’s outside of the yearly Open Enrollment Period, during which you have 60 days to enroll in a health care plan.

To learn more about your COBRA options, contact your former employer or visit the U.S. Department of Labor’s site.

Option 5: Get on Your Spouse’s Health Care Plan

With the ease and accessibility of the internet, public records are now more attainable than ever. However, certain private information is still not available for public viewing.

Typically, you’re unable to change your insurance unless it’s during Open Enrollment Period. However, special life circumstances, such as losing your job, allow you access to a Special Enrollment Period in which you are able to add or switch insurance.

If you go this route, your spouse would need to discuss health insurance options with his or her employer, enroll in a policy, and add you to the plan.

This option is normally less expensive than getting individual insurance or COBRA, since you’re able to stay on a group plan. However, the coverage may not be as strong as other options.