4 health insurance paths taken
Health insurance reform expands range of employment choices
Carolyn and John Sheridan are exploring their options for health insurance. Carolyn worked away from their Greenville, Iowa, farm for 36 years. “Health insurance has been my responsibility for most of these years,” she says. John and their two children were on her policy. Then a few years ago, John was injured in a farm-related incident, and they learned that his medical costs were excluded from their insurance coverage. “We realized we needed to buy John a separate policy,” she says. In a few weeks, Carolyn is leaving her job to work full time as clinical director for the AgriSafe Network, but she no longer will have insurance through her employer. She visited the Health Insurance Marketplace, compared policies, and submitted an application. John plans to keep his policy for at least another year. Their daughter, who is self-employed, and her husband are comparison-shopping for a policy on the Marketplace. The newlyweds, ages 24 and 26, may qualify for tax credits or subsidies, Carolyn says.
Staying with the status quo seems the best option in the short term
Mandi and Traci Goretska are curious if they could do better for their insurance needs on the Health Insurance Marketplace. The Corydon, Iowa, couple has two children, ages 13 and 4.
Their insurance is through the Iowa Farm Bureau; it’s a Wellmark Blue Cross of Iowa policy. “We pay $1,000 per month out of pocket for our policy,” Mandi says. “We’re happy with the coverage, but that’s a lot of money.”
When Mandi visited the website last fall, she was unable to get through the process. “Wellmark isn’t participating in the Exchange this year but plans to in 2015,” she says. “It would be too much of a headache to change policies this year and possibly switch again in 2015. We’ll stay with our insurance.”
Younger employees are prime candidates for new insurance choices
Chantale and Aaron Nadeau insure their family of five through her job as a public health nutritionist at the Vermont Department of Health. She compared policies on the Vermont Health Connect Marketplace and found that none would improve upon her current insurance coverage.
The ACA doesn’t require the Derby, Vermont, dairy farmers to provide insurance to their three employees. “We’re encouraging two of them to look into policies on the Vermont Marketplace,” Chantale says. “They’re young – exactly the group that’s needed to enroll.”
Their employees, Sheena and Nick, already are winners, remaining on their parents’ insurance policies until they turn 26 in 2014. Catastrophic insurance is available in the Marketplace for those under 30 years old (without tax credits or subsidies). Vermont has expanded its health insurance and broadened eligibility for Medicaid. “Many farmers have benefitted, and it helped lay the groundwork for ACA here,” Chantale says.