How Do You Get Health Insurance After You Get Released From Prison?

How Do You Get Health Insurance After You Get Released From Prison?

Medical care outside of prison can be expensive. Costs for a hospital visit can range from $3,000 to $20,000. Based on how long you were in prison, your previous insurance plan may still be active when you get out. If not, getting health insurance after you get released from prison can help you control medical costs.

Are you required to have health insurance?

It depends. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) Individual mandate ended in 2019. This required everyone in the U.S. to have health insurance. Now, each state can decide whether it requires residents to have health insurance. Five states and one district still require residents to have health insurance.

  • Vermont
  • California
  • New Jersey
  • Massachusetts
  • Rhode Island
  • Washington, D.C.

How do you get Medicare or Medicaid?

Before or after you leave prison, you can apply for Medicare or Medicaid. But, if you do apply before leaving prison, know that the plan will not cover your expenses while in prison. Medicare and Medicaid are federal and state-funded programs respectively, for lower-income people and families. There are different eligibility requirements for Medicaid and Medicare. If you are over 65 years of age or have received disability for over 24 months, you can qualify for Medicare. For Medicaid, you must meet certain income requirements. Or, you must be part of a qualified group.

How do you get private health insurance after you are released from prison?

You can also get private insurance after leaving prison. This can be expensive. But, you can still find insurance plans at lower rates. Different locations may have different private health insurance options. A simple Internet search can help you find coverage in your area.

One way to find a plan is through the federal government marketplace at This site allows you to compare available plans in your area. Depending on your income, you may also qualify for subsidies. This is when the government contributes money to your health insurance premium.

You have a few options for health insurance after prison.
Image courtesy of Nguyễn Hiệp via Unsplash.

Can you join through someone else’s plan?

If your loved ones have health insurance, you may be able to join their plan. Usually, you will need to prove insurable interest. That means that there must be a reason the insurance owner would want to put you on their plan. Close family relationships are enough to qualify. This could be a sibling, parent, spouse or child. But if you are a domestic partner that doesn’t have a legally defined relationship, you might not qualify. Some states will allow you to sign your partner as a spouse under common law marriage.

How do you get insurance from your employer?

Certain jobs will provide health insurance through a company plan. Sometimes employment plans are called group plans. When your employer gives you health insurance, they will usually share the cost of premiums with you. They may even cover your cost fully. Your employer will pick the types of insurance plans that you can get.

The Takeaway:

There are several different ways to get health insurance after bring released from prison. You can start looking for health insurance before your release. After leaving prison, you have several coverage options. Some plans are provided by the government. Others are through private companies. You may be able to join a family member’s plan. Your employer may also offer you health insurance through a company plan.

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