Affordable Care Act — for new entrepreneurs

I am in a miserable, horrible job. I hate every minute I’m there. The management is lazy at best and downright evil at worst. The only thing keeping me there is that the company gives me medical insurance. I make decent money in my off-hours as an independent contractor, and I would quit my job to do that if not for the health insurance. Can you recommend a good place to go online to search for independent (read: not provided by an employer) health insurance? I need it for myself and my wife and child.

Ready To Go

Dear Ready To Go,

You are a poster child for health reform.  By making health insurance more readily available – aside from through an employer – policymakers hope to free people from job lock.  Aspiring entrepreneurs everywhere can leave their cubicles and strike out on their own.

That’s the good news.  Now the reality: the health insurance exchange at healthcare.gov is exactly where you need to go, but it is not working currently. Find out if your state is running its own exchange; the state-run exchanges have had a much smoother roll-out than the federal site.  When you go to healthcare.gov, it will ask you for your state.  If your state has its own exchange, it will give you a link to it.  If your state is using the federal marketplace, your best bet is to wait until fixes are made.
The exchange is only for people who do not have an employer plan and who earn less than 400% of Federal Poverty. If you will earn more than 400% of Federal Poverty, then you need to go elsewhere. (Four hundred percent of Federal Poverty for a family of three is $78,120.) To find out your off-exchange options, you may want to find a broker or use one of the online health insurance shopping sites.

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Linda Riddell

About Linda Riddell

A published author and health policy analyst with 25 years’ experience, Linda Riddell's goal is to alleviate the widespread ailment of not knowing what your health plan can do for you.