Affordable Care Act: Dirigo plan ended; college student needs new plan

“Help…I insured my 18-year-old daughter on the former – “Dirigo Choice Health Plan” which ended December 31st, 2013.  She is now a college student in New Hampshire full time.  She has a shoulder condition for which she’s previously had labrum surgery and will probably need more surgery in the future.  She also has allergy/asthma/immunology conditions for which she sees specialists and has numerous medications. 

She does not have insurance available through her father or through me.  She does not qualify for Medicaid in Maine from what I understand.  I looked at a health plan that would cost $150 per month with a deductible of $7,500.  There is no way we could afford the monthly cost plus the deductible, especially since she has health problems and I know we’ll have the costs.    

I do not claim her as a dependent on my taxes.  My only income is Social Security Disability, which supports me and my other daughter (a half-sister to my 18-year-old).  Would it help for me to attempt to make her legal residence   a) Outside my home and her as a single person residing in Maine…. how?   b)  somehow try to get her residency in NH as a single person?  –  how?  

Any other options/avenues – move elsewhere – another state?  I am beside myself and would like to take care of/help my daughter.” 

Worried Sick Mom

 Dear Worried Sick Mom,


Since your daughter has no income of her own, she would not qualify for subsidies to buy her health insurance.  This is true whether she is a resident of Maine or New Hampshire, since neither state is “expanding” Medicaid.  If your income is at least $19,530 (100% of Federal Poverty for a household of three), then your daughter could apply for insurance from the exchange and get help paying for it.  She could also qualify for help paying any deductibles and co-pays.  You would need to claim her as a dependent for your taxes, in order to do this.

If your income is less than 100% of Federal Poverty, then you cannot get subsidies to pay for health insurance on the exchange.  It is a curious situation in the states that are not offering Medicaid to all low-income people: people earning less than Federal Poverty are too poor to get help buying health insurance and also do not qualify for Medicaid.

If your income is too low for insurance exchange subsidies, I would suggest contacting her school about their student health plan.  It’s possible that the cost of this plan could be covered by need-based scholarships or other grant funds offered by the school.

Another option is to boost your daughter’s income.  If she could earn $11,490, then she could qualify for insurance subsidies as an independent person.  You do not claim her as a dependent; make sure her father also does not claim her.  Even at minimum wage, she could earn this much working full-time during her summer breaks and a part-time job during the school semester.

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.