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Contributor

How is it possible to afford health insurance if I don't have a job?

I am 57 and I cannot afford health insurance. I have not been able to find a full time job and because of my age, I have sporadic temp work. I looked up health insurance in my area and the lowest was over $600 per month! There is absolutely no way! Last year with unemployment and a temp job I did, I made about $15,000. Out of that I had to pay almost $1000 in tax. How are we supposed to live if no one will hire us?! I have too much education for Walmart to hire me and too much experience for the young people that are hiring these days.

 

Luckily I am healthy, but what if something happens? Does anyone have any suggestions? 

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Periodic Contributor

If you are in relatively good health, with no pre-existing conditions and not currently using expensive prescription drugs I would give seroius consideration to the various healthcare sharing ministries that are available (like medishare). If you aren't eligible for medicare yet this option is much more affordable than traditional health insureance plans. Just use these type of plans for peace of mind until you reach medicare age.

Newbie

It may not be possible but examine all your options.

- Cobra is quite expensive and for a limited time but very comprehensive and can be cheaper than the medical treatment required for some.

- ACA, Obammacare, Healthcare .gov; can be expensive but is quite comprehensive.  Some qualify for Subsidies and a talk with a CPA may be eble to help you take steps to determine what your AGI can be if you earn for yourself.

 - Short term policies may result in a tax penalty if they last 3 months of more in 2018. They reject folks with some pre-existing conditions. But if you are healthy they cover against accident and Injury with deductions you can chose to ajust the premiums.  Some cover expenses up to 2 Million.

 - Health Care Sharing Ministries are not actual insurance but provide a tax exemption - and often accept folks who would be rejected by Insurance companies short term plans for pre-existing conditions.  Some also have Catastrophic plans that cover hospital expenses.

 - Accident plans that can cover acciidents only are failry cheap and can take care of many accidents up to their limits.

 - Critical illness, hospital and Cancer plans can help a lot and are not as expensive as full insurance plans.

 

One Key item to consider is what happens if you get a $250,000 hospital bill or a million dollar bill?  If that will not break you because you can pay it or because you don't have any assets that can be taken - spending thousands on insurance may not make any sense.

 

The most important things to do for the long run is to ask your elected officials what they plan to do about this terrible situation and vote accordingly.

 

Payton Fletcher

 

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Periodic Contributor

I'd like to know about this too.  I'm 61 (62 at the end of the year) and *retired* when my company shut the doors a few years ago.  Hard to find places willing to hire a 60-year-old with more than 40 years of IT experience.  I've been covered on my husband's insurance but he'll be *retiring* in the next couple of months but he's 66 so will get Medicare.  I'm a kidney transplant recipient and cancer survivor so I thought I had to have insurance but now I'm thinking maybe I'll just risk the next few years and hope for the best.  I am looking for a job that has medical.  I don't care what the job is nor what it pays.  I just need the insurance.  Unfortunately, I'm on the cusp; too old to hire and too young for Medicare.  I have a small sewing business and know several people in the same boat.  I'm hoping something gives.  Never thought I'd get to this point in my life and be worrying about this.

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Newbie

When ACA premiums went up in 2017 to $800 per person for the least expensive bronze plan with a per person deductible of $6700, my husband and I dropped health insurance for a couple of months.  We are both healthy but it was still a risk.  We finally got short term insurance that cost $500 for both and had the same deductible.  The problem with the short term is that they may not cover pre-existing and may have a cap on payouts.

 

This year my husband found out he qualifies for VA benefits.  I still have to get insurance through ACA but premiums have gone up to $900 per person.  I'm not employed so it's coming out of our retirement.  I never thought I'd say this but "C'mon, Medicare!"

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Honored Social Butterfly


@tlgoodrich wrote:

When ACA premiums went up in 2017 to $800 per person for the least expensive bronze plan with a per person deductible of $6700, my husband and I dropped health insurance for a couple of months.  We are both healthy but it was still a risk.  We finally got short term insurance that cost $500 for both and had the same deductible.  The problem with the short term is that they may not cover pre-existing and may have a cap on payouts.

 

This year my husband found out he qualifies for VA benefits.  I still have to get insurance through ACA but premiums have gone up to $900 per person.  I'm not employed so it's coming out of our retirement.  I never thought I'd say this but "C'mon, Medicare!"


I assume that the ACA premiums that you are quoting are from an UNSUBSIDIZED ACA plan premium - for those who make up to 400% of the Federal Poverty level, the government is suppose to subsidize about 86% or more of the premiums.  The government subsidy is based on family income on a MAGI bases -which means it counts most all income.

 

If your family income is less than 400% of the Federal Poverty Level, you should get some help in looking for your ACA plan for 2019 - or at least check it out based on your own situation in family Size and countable income.

 

After enrollment opens in November 2018, you can go to Healthcare.gov or your own state exchange and fill out all the info, including your family size and income and how many people are needing the insurance and then pick your plan and see how the premiums come back.  It will tell you if you will get a subsidy.

 

Here is a site where you can just put in the necessary info from your 2017 info and it will estimate any premium subsidy for 2018 plans which you might have received for this year if you were eligibl - it will tell you at least an estimation.

 

KAiser Family Foundation - Health Insurance Marketplace Calculator

 

Eligible People get a premium subsidy on any plan chosen on the ACA exchange - the less your income to the FPL, the more premium subsidy - but too lie of an income - about 138% or lower to the FPL and MEDICAID is the only thing available IF your state expanded it to cover Abled Bodied adults - some states have a work, school, retraining or volunteer status requirement for low income abled Bodied adults to get expanded Medicaid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
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Newbie

Also, the subsidy goes down as you get closer to the 400% mark.  One dollar over that and you have to repay any subsidy for the month you were over the 400% limit.  I am aware of the subsidies but, since we still have a mortgage, keeping the income level low enough to cover the mortgage and normal expenses is a challenge.

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Honored Social Butterfly


@tlgoodrich wrote:

Also, the subsidy goes down as you get closer to the 400% mark.  One dollar over that and you have to repay any subsidy for the month you were over the 400% limit.  I am aware of the subsidies but, since we still have a mortgage, keeping the income level low enough to cover the mortgage and normal expenses is a challenge.


I can see how that could happen.  Like I said before, before retirement, being self employed, I had to budget for it all of it since there was no employer subsidizing anything for me.  Heath insurance, retirement, sel-employment taxes - me,myself and I - hubby too (was OUR business) and then make enough to cover all the personal stuff.

 

Every year we would look at our health insurance premiums and what healthcare we were using - it was hard to continue on paying it but we did and I am glad we did because my husband got gravely ill.  If we had had no health coverage - we probably would have had to sell our home and maybe other stuff too.

 

It is important; It is costly but doing without could e worse.  That is why those who are employed and have access to employer subsidized coverage need to understand just how much this represents to the in real total dollars and perhaps have plan if something goes amiss.  Counting on something from somebody else woul make me nervous - be that health insurance, retirement or even the government's part in Part B and Part D of Medicare.

 

 

It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
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Newbie

The subsidy is for any plan including bronze.

Honored Social Butterfly


@tlgoodrich wrote:

The subsidy is for any plan including bronze.


You are right - I was thinking of the Ole cost sharing reduction.

I will edit my post.  Thanks for correcting me.

Hard to keep track of all of the rules when you don 't use it.

It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
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Regular Contributor

I wish I did (have any suggestions). It seems the only feedback/suggestions are to have saved enough money when you had a well-paying job (women always have those, right?) so that until you qualify for Medicare you can afford those $600 a month premiums on your unemployment pay.

RIGHT.

I couldn't manage it making half what I did before my layoff, and unemployment doesn't even pay you half what you got when you were working. I don't know where these people live but I am obviously living in an alternate universe somewhere.

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Honored Social Butterfly


@kt1909 wrote:

I wish I did (have any suggestions). It seems the only feedback/suggestions are to have saved enough money when you had a well-paying job (women always have those, right?) so that until you qualify for Medicare you can afford those $600 a month premiums on your unemployment pay.

RIGHT.

I couldn't manage it making half what I did before my layoff, and unemployment doesn't even pay you half what you got when you were working. I don't know where these people live but I am obviously living in an alternate universe somewhere.


Before I officially retired, I was self-employed since 1979, so I never had an employer - what was gonna be for health insurance (individual marketplace), retirement, income, saving for a rainy day - code for when business might be down, or something else, etc - was up to me, myself and I.

Perhaps that made a difference in how I planned, budgeted, spent and saved - and yep, I am a woman.

It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
Regular Contributor

I was faced with a similar situation. If you are over 40 these days and need a job, you have to hope and pray that somebody will "take a chance" and hire you. I wish age was a protected class because discrimination is so blatant can go unchallenged. In the end, everybody loses. There are plenty of more experienced, older workers who don't have outrageous salary demands and who are a lot more reliable than younger employees. 

Regular Contributor

I'm "sure" it was a problem with my budget. I had had a well-paid job and got laid off when the company downsized. My expenses (like having a place to live) was based on my prior income. I'm sure I could have lost my housing so that I could afford health insurance, why not? But I made the choice to maintain my housing and not become one of the well-insured homeless I see living on the street corners. If I had expected to be laid off four years earlier I could have planned for it when I chose where to live, but unfortunately my crystal ball was down when I was making those decisions. I forgot that you always need to plan for the worst possible outcome and never forget that anything good will last. Seems like only the bad things stick around. 

Honored Social Butterfly

@kt1909

 

Financial emergency situation of one sort or another are just about a fact of life - as Gilda Ratner use to say as one of her characters - It is Always Something . . . . . 

So like little squirrels we put away when times are really good to prepare for those times which aren't.

 

I am happy you have Medicare now and have left the ranks of the uninsured.  You and your employer paid for Part A during your working years - Part B and Part D are paid for by premiums from the beneficiaries - these represent about 25% of each of these programs cost,  with the rest coming from the General Fund.

 

 

It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
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Regular Contributor

I was unable to have insurance for four years until I qualified for Medicare. Even with the ACA it was more than I could possibly afford if I still wanted to have a roof over my head and some food to eat. I knew I was taking a big risk but I couldn't afford anything else. I did have to pay that awful penalty tax but it was still cheaper than paying for even just a few months of insurance coverage. I was working but at very low wages, but high enough to make it that I hardly got a break at all from the ACA. It was a scary, scary time.

Honored Social Butterfly


@kt1909 wrote:

I was unable to have insurance for four years until I qualified for Medicare. Even with the ACA it was more than I could possibly afford if I still wanted to have a roof over my head and some food to eat. I knew I was taking a big risk but I couldn't afford anything else. I did have to pay that awful penalty tax but it was still cheaper than paying for even just a few months of insurance coverage. I was working but at very low wages, but high enough to make it that I hardly got a break at all from the ACA. It was a scary, scary time.


Sometimes, it is not the final cost of the Subsidized health insurance premium but something else is wrong in the budget.

 

The ACA insurance premium subsidy is based on the household income and should be a subsidy amount which reduces your premium cost down to about 10% of your household income based on a bench marked Silver Plan where one is located.

 

Then there is planning to cover ones own cost of deductibles, coinsurance and copays.

 

Sure sometimes even a government subsidy is not enough for ones budget - and it create financial hardship but this goes for lots of stuff where there is a government subsidy applied to help those in the covered population.

 

Insurance also is not about just ones own coverage, be that private insurance or even Medicare - we all share in the cost of others.  

 

It was not just ones own risk of being uninsured at stake but that of the taxpayers too  if an emergency occurred, there is always the Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act (EMTALA).

 

 

It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
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Regular Contributor

You're right "something is wrong in the budget". Making half what I used to; what I earned 15 years ago, trying to meet today's expenses on a 15-years-ago salary. I challenge anybody to "budget" on that. 

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Honored Social Butterfly

What state do you live in? In Maryland, Medicaid covers people with up to $16,753 in annual income. Maybe your state has a Medicaid expansion program too.

Periodic Contributor

I'm in California and just now learning about Medicaid. Here, you may earn up to $10,xxx per year and be covered with no share of cost. If you go over that amount, there are two options:

 

* purchase some type of supplemental insurance

* pay the $7xx per month co-pay

 

It's good that MD has a more generous Medicaid program.

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