Have you logged on to the Healthcare.gov website yet? Yes, the website’s experiencing a few glitches and registration issues, but it’s worthwhile to log on now and poke around the site just to see your options – then go register in two weeks after the registration problems have been solved.
The biggest thing you’re hearing from news organizations is “if you already have health insurance, you don’t have to do anything.” Well, that’s all fine and dandy for people who like to do things the normal way, but it isn’t the best option for people who like to do things the cheap way.
If you’re the kind of person who’s reading this site, you’re probably already skilled at sussing out the cheapest airfare, cuts of meat, and other basic life expenses. Now it’s time to learn how to find the cheapest health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, as well as what to do about other types of insurance.
If you already have health insurance through your job
If you already have health insurance through your job, but are unhappy with your current premiums, it’s time to do some investigation. It is possible to ditch your employer-based health care plan and sign up for an Affordable Care Act Marketplace plan (the words “Marketplace” and “the exchange” both mean the same thing – the government-mandated health care plans that gotta accept everybody – so that’s what we’re talking about here), but pay close attention. Often, by giving up your employer’s plan, you’re giving up benefits you didn’t know you had.
Healthcare.gov has a good guide to when you should keep your current employer-based health care plan and when you should switch to a new one.
If you already have health insurance through a private carrier
If you’re a freelancer, consultant, or otherwise unable to get health insurance from an employer and you’ve elected to purchase health insurance from a private carrier, you’ve probably received a letter in the mail letting you know that plan will no longer be functional after December 31. This is because your plan does not currently meet Affordable Care Act standards – and that’s a good thing. Chances are, your health insurance plan was a high-deductible, bare-bones plan that did not fully cover the costs of staying healthy. Now it’s time to get a new plan.
Log on to Healthcare.gov and search the Marketplace. There are four types of insurance options: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. Each includes basic services like free preventative care (e.g. your annual physical), but the plans differ in their costs and deductibles, among other services. Choose the plan that seems best for you.
If you don’t have health insurance
Congratulations! The Marketplace cannot turn you away, even if you have current health issues or pre-existing conditions. Log on to Healthcare.gov and pick your Marketplace plan.
Then go get your free physical. It’s about time.
A special note for people earning less than $45,960 per year (or $94,200 for a family of four)
Speaking as a freelancer myself – it’s hard to click that button that says “I’m making less than $45,960 per year.” I worked hard to get my business up and running, and I’m a little embarrassed that, even though I’m earning around $38,000 a year, my husband and I are still technically “low income” and my family of four qualifies for Affordable Care Act financial assistance.
Yeah… um… get over that. We are cheap. Some of us are in fields that don’t generate high salaries, and some of us specifically choose jobs with modest incomes because it allows us to spend more time with families and loved ones, or lets us step off the rat race.
Click the button. Get your Affordable Care Act financial assistance.
Other insurance-related items to consider
Just because you finally have good, effective health insurance doesn’t mean you’re fully covered. Take a few of those dollars you’re saving on health insurance and drop them into another insurance service, like renter’s insurance or life insurance. If you have a family or are planning to start one, life insurance is essential and is often not covered by other policies.
I’m so excited about the Affordable Care Act and using it to find the cheapest, most effective health care plan for my family. I hope you are too.
This post was provided by Amanda Greene.