Yesterday I received this email from a mom in Texas,
“Hi Emma, my husband recently dropped a giant bomb on me: He’s in love with someone else and leaving me. I am so terrified of so many things — paying the bills, trauma to our three kids, maybe relocating, ever finding love again. And health insurance! How can I get health insurance? I have always relied on my husband’s job for this.”
The No. 1 question I get from single moms is about money, and health insurance is part of that. Thanks to Obamacare, you have to have health insurance for yourself and your kids, or else you face stiff penalties at tax time. Don’t think about trying to get around that — those penalties are going up each year, and currently exceed what it costs to buy a basic plan for most families. I have been buying health insurance for my kids and myself for about 4 years, I can tell you it is not as complicated or expensive as you may think. I pay about $650 per month for a decent plan for my kids and myself in New York.
You can get health insurance one of three ways: through your employer, through the government (if you qualify for your state’s low-income health program), or buying it on the open market. If you don’t have coverage through your job or qualify for your state plan, you go with #3. Which can seem overwhelming.
Enter technology! There are a few sites that broker individual health insurance plans. I like the interface at eHeathInsurance.com, which partners with a lot of companies and is the easiest to use. Open enrollment, the period you can change carriers, is Nov. 1, 2015 through Jan. 31, 2016.
If you are facing life without health insurance now, changed jobs, had a baby, are facing divorce or other life calamities, you can buy insurance at any time.
I went through the steps here. It’s super-easy.
1. Log into eHeathInsurance.com. There you will find this cute guy on a phone. No idea what this has to do with you getting affordable health insurance, but I don’t want you to be surprised. Click on the middle button on the bottom for ‘Health Insurance’:
2. Click the item that describes your situation.
3. Fill in your family information.
Awesome feature: It automatically redirects you if your income qualifies for low-income options. Also, find your state on this page, which will link you to health resources for low-income families.
4. Consider your options. If you and your kids are generally healthy, making monthly expenses is a concern, then go for the cheapest monthly premium plan. eHealthInsurance found a plan for $570 — about $100 less than I’m currently paying. I’m coming back during open enrollment, yo!
If you expect a lot of medical bills to budget for, you can search plans by co-pay, deductible office visit fee and other variables.
5. Make your purchase. Once you choose your plan through eHealthInsurance.com, you will apply directly to the carrier. Fortunately, most of your information is already pre-filled. Within a few minutes you will be on your way to health insurance. Yay!
THAT IS IT. Like I said, I already had health insurance when I did this, so I couldn’t go all the way through to the purchase, but will update this during enrollment period, when many of you will be doing the same.
How about you? Did you find any tricks in enrolling in affordable health insurance? What can you share with other single moms? Share in the comments!
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