Thursday, June 30, 2011

How do you expect me to get health insurance?

A Resource for the Unemployed/Underemployed/Self-employed.



By Lay Hughes

Okay, friends! Acquiring health insurance, or shall I say my inability to acquire health insurance has been a huge obstacle since being let go of my last 9-to-5 job in 2010. Now that I am self-employed, I am finding that there aren't as many services/resources available to individuals whose income level is above the poverty line.

Well, with all due respect, I haven't quite hit the Forbes List yet! So, I can't imagine how the government (or anyone else) could expect that I would be able to afford standard monthly insurance premiums of over $300 to cover my personal health insurance costs. And strangely enough, even while I was receiving unemployment benefits, I was STILL deemed as ineligible for state-funded resources because my income was too high! [Pardon me as I chuckle about that...What an oxymoron]. Beyond this, exploring the option of adding coverage for my husband would be double the standard monthly premium noted above, and that is just outlandish!

Now, I must say that for many persons in my position, they do qualify for state-funded health coverage, primarily because they have dependent children. Subsequently, I certainly have to give the government credit for wanting to ensure that the children, the disabled and the elderly are provided with health coverage. My husband and I, however, do not have dependent children, we are not disabled and are nowhere near elderly! LOL! And with more and more couples choosing to start families much later in their relationships, this scenario of working adults without dependent children is becoming increasingly common.

My husband is an independent contractor. His company once offered benefits, but they terminated those benefits because of the rising costs. Now, everyone employed at his company is responsible for acquiring his or her own health care and other benefits. So, with neither one of us being connected to a company that offers benefits, we've been facing major obstacles with trying to maintain our health. Fortunately for us, we have not had any major medical issues to arise. But, needless to say, there is certainly a gap in the health care system for us folks whose income is above the poverty level and don't have dependent children. I anticipate that the new Health Care Reform Act may address some of this. But, in the meantime, we have to do something. So, I have continued to be proactive and vigilant about getting health insurance.

Many other people generally resolve to go without coverage because they simply cannot afford it. Well, for those of you in a similar situation such as mine, I am here to pass on some encouragement. So, don't fret! It has definitely taken me a long while, but I believe that I have finally identified substantial resources for those of us who are unemployed/underemployed/or self-employed and do not qualify for Medicaid, Medicare and other state-funded benefits. Check out these resources below:

a. Kaiser Permanente Bridge Program. The Bridge Plan is for individuals who find they can't afford health coverage but aren't eligible for Medicare, Medicaid, medical assistance programs or other health care coverage. Members pay a low monthly premium (starting at approximately $20/month) for up to three years of enrollment, as long as they continue to meet eligibility requirements. Kaiser Permanente covers between 90 and 95 percent of the cost for standard monthly premiums.
b. National Association for the Self-Employed. The NASE offers access to health insurance through Assurant, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, UnitedHealthOne, Humana and others. These respected companies offer a variety of health plans, which can be customized to meet the special needs of micro-business owners. With several companies offering customizable health options, there's a plan for everyone. You must be a registered member in order to access these benefits. The annual membership fee is $72.
c. Foundation of Health Coverage Education. The FHCE offers four unique ways to help you find health coverage in your area, including an 800- number that uninsured persons can use to speak directly with a live counselor 24 hours a day/seven days a week.
d. Aflac. While major medical pays your doctors and hospitals, Aflac is a supplemental insurance that pays you directly any time you are hurt or sick. Aflac does not replace major medical and serves as a complement to your primary health coverage. However, you are able to obtain Aflac regardless of whether you have primary medical or not. Once you enroll, you get cash benefits to help with daily living activities any time you are sick or injured. The cash you receive can be used however you'd like such as for utilities, rent/mortgage, prescriptions, high deductibles, groceries, etc. Aflac is also a great way for small/micro-business owners to enhance their benefits packages. Aflac is no direct cost to the business owner because it is 100 percent employee paid. Plus, employers also get a tax break. (Read more via the postings on my Facebook fan page).

I hope the resources above are helpful to you in your search for health insurance. Here's to happy, healthy living!

About the Author

Mrs. LayƩida R. Hughes is an accomplished speaker, business leader, consultant and community activist. She has been featured on several local and national news broadcasts wherein she has shared her expertise and supplied commentary on pertinent social topics.
     Mrs. Hughes has served on many political forums and has spoken to groups as large as 4,000, advocating on a variety of issues. She has received many prestigious honors from a number of organizations as well as a host of network and social groups for her service to the community. She continues to be called on for her insight and unique abilities in providing services to under-privileged and disadvantaged individuals and families.
       As founder of the Progressive Spaces blog site-- and online resource center serving the unemployed/underemployed/self-employed-- Mrs. Hughes plans to continue her mission of working with persons who are overcoming challenges and intends to do so on a more massive scale.
      You can contact Mrs. Hughes by email at progressivespaces@gmail.com and by voicemail at 240.286.2235. Also, "like" the Progressive Spaces Facebook Page and follow them on Twitter.

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