Self-employed, and navigating the ‘Obamacare highway’
Kari Lindstrom The Melamine Cup Jaffrey Advice: I am slightly biased here (I was a career counselor for 17 years.) Do your research about the business, have a handle on the culture (example, don’t show up in ripped jeans for a reception job), make eye contact, shake hands, leave your cellphone in the car, practice some common interview questions and don’t be late. First job: My first job was as a prep cook at Maitre Jacq Restaurant in Francestown when I was a freshman at ConVal.
Being self-employed has its many upsides when raising a young family, especially flexibility. But, it also has its downside: no health insurance. I have been very fortunate to have had a background in nonprofits, so I have an idea of what resources are available in the Monadnock region.
I have been self-employed for three years now, but had the security of my husband’s health insurance policy. This past spring, my husband made the transition out of the tech field into self-employment as well. We both faced having no health insurance for the first time ever. To cover the gap between his job change and Obamacare starting, I contacted Dublin Health and got a short-term catastrophic health insurance policy, and took advantage of the financial grant at Monadnock Community Hospital. Both of these were very helpful. I was even able to purchase my own Delta Dental policy through Dublin Health at an affordable cost, which I still have, for $50 a month on an excellent policy.
Toward the end of December, it was crunch time for me to work with Dublin Health — which costs absolutely no money to work with an insurance broker, and there are many insurance brokers in our area. The health-care landscape would totally change as we know it I was told, and there were many unknowns.
I took some time trying to navigate healthcare.gov on my own, just to see, to feel out what I may be looking at for monthly fees under Obamacare — and I was very confused. Having an insurance broker soon work with me on the process was a big relief.
I opted to enroll over the phone with Dublin Health. This appointment took 90 minutes, during which time I had to have direct access to the Internet and my email. Dublin Health walked me through the application step-by-step and was able to answer all my questions in real time. I needed to have income projections for my self-employment ready for 2014, social security numbers for dependents, etc.
By the end of the 90 minute phone appointment, I was all signed up, monthly insurance cost of $36.99, $10 for prescriptions and co-pays and a $175 deductible. This is where self-employment paid off for me. The government healthcare subsidy made all the difference, based upon my income in my second year of a start-up business. Hooray! It was just that easy.
Yes, there have been a few glitches since then with this health care overhaul in our country. To get my monthly billing squared away I had to wait two hours, yes two hours, on the phone with Anthem to get this set up. My insurance card took forever to arrive in the mail, only arriving on Jan. 27. The day it arrived, though, I jumped up and down with delight at the post office and another postal patron said I needed to tell my story.
I have to say I am not keen at all on the fact that Monadnock Community Hospital is not in network — though hopefully it will be in January 2015 when other providers come into the marketplace. I have had the same doctor now since 1997 and cringe at thinking I have to switch to someone new. Perhaps I will be healthy enough in the next year that I won’t have to switch — that is my biggest challenge through this process. But, at least I have affordable health insurance and that’s all that matters.
Bottom line, there are many fabulous resources in the Monadnock region to help you navigate the healthcare highway. Be your own best savvy advocate and contact one.
Kari Lindstrom owns and operates The Melamine Cup – Mid Century Modern & More in Jaffrey. She has 17 years of experience as a career coach, coaching adults in the Monadnock region through their career transitions and business start-ups. Lindstrom also serves on the Board of Directors for the Jaffrey Chamber of Commerce.