Questions and answers about American health care.
Are the Unemployed Required to Buy Insurance?By In general, everyone is required to have insurance starting in 2014, even people who are unemployed. But you’ll be exempt from the requirement if your income is below the tax-filing threshold (in 2009, that amount was $9,350 for singles under age 65), or if buying even the lowest cost plan on the new health insurance exchanges, set to open that year, would exceed 8 percent of your income.
If you have no income or just a small amount, you may be eligible for coverage under Medicaid, which was expanded under the new health law to cover adults with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $14,400 this year.
If you can afford to look for insurance on the exchanges, subsidies will be available for people with incomes up to 400 percent of the poverty level ($43,320 in 2010). Generally, eligibility for subsidies will be based on your household income in the most recent tax year for which information is available, said Timothy Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University. But if you lose your job and your income drops, your eligibility will be based on an estimate of your household income for the coming taxable year, Mr. Jost said.