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Health Coverage for the Unemployed

This policy brief outlines the challenges facing the unemployed as they seek to remain insured after losing jobs and employer-sponsored health coverage. In May 2011, 13.9 million people in the U.S. were unemployed. Of these, 6.2 million had been unemployed for six months or more and faced limited options to remain insured.

The brief examines potential sources of insurance, including through a spouse’s plan, COBRA, the non-group insurance market and public programs. It also discusses consequences of lapses in coverage. The new health reform law will increase coverage options for the unemployed through an expansion in Medicaid and subsidizing coverage purchased in new health insurance Exchanges, though most coverage provisions do not take effect until 2014.

Issue Brief (.pdf)