Obamacare and seasonal unemployment

My son has a seasonal job and is unemployed for the winter every year.  He will not be able to afford health insurance while he is not working.  Are there any special rules for people who are unemployed or do they still have to have health insurance?  Maybe he should just pay the penalty?


Dear Dad-In-Need,

First, there is no penalty until 2014. Second, health reform allows him to go for three months with no health insurance, and face no penalty/tax. So, if the lapse is three months or less, there is no penalty.

An unemployed person would, naturally, have a lower income and therefore might qualify for government subsidies to buy health insurance. He should go online to the insurance exchange or call the exchange’s navigators to apply.

Since he knows he will be unemployed, he might want to plan ahead.  The exchanges and navigators are supposed to be open for business in October 2013.  He could call this fall and be ready when his work ends later in the winter.

Linda Riddell

About Linda Riddell

A published author and health policy analyst with 25 years’ experience, Linda Riddell's goal is to alleviate the widespread ailment of not knowing what your health plan can do for you.