No income, but have to pay full price

I am 30 years old and live in Maine.  I had to stop working because of illness.  I applied for disability but was turned down.  In the meantime, I have no income.  I cannot afford COBRA coverage.  I’m back living with my parents.  My question is when I apply for Obamacare, do I list my parents’ income since I am in their household?  What happens if I list only my income, which is zero?

Boomerang at 30

Dear Boomerang at 30,

Unfortunately, you are going to be in the gap between Medicaid and subsidized health insurance.  In states that did not “expand” Medicaid, there is a group of people whose income is too low to get help paying for their health insurance yet who cannot qualify for Medicaid either.  (You would not list your parents’ income because they do not claim you as a dependent.)

If you wanted to get health insurance from the exchange, you would have to pay full price.  Since you have an ongoing illness, this is definitely worth looking into.  Perhaps your parents would be willing to help you pay the monthly cost.

Your other option is to deal with being uninsured.  You could establish yourself as a patient at a local free or sliding-scale clinic.  You could also go to your local hospital and apply for their patient assistance program.  If you are on medications, you can apply for the drug makers’ assistance program.

I encourage you to re-apply for disability, if the illness truly is preventing you from working at all.  Once you are deemed disabled, you will qualify for Medicaid.  This is a long process, so you will need to be persistent.

Best of luck to you!

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.