Thursday, August 29, 2013

Freelancing and Health Insurance

Today's post was inspired by a survey that's currently in the arts community about health insurance.  I encourage you (if you're reading this before August 31, 2013) to participate in the survey.  Here's the link: 

Now, here's my story.

I have been freelancing for over 10 years.  One of the obstacles my husband and I had to deal with when we both decided to be self-employed was health insurance.  Well, when I started freelancing, he owned his own company.  He had employees.  I could get coverage under his company's policy.  Times change.  He decided to sell his company.  Conveniently, this came at about the same time that I took a contracted position with the government.  A position that offered me health insurance, and coverage for my spouse.  How convenient!

About 8 months later, that job ended.  I was offered COBRA coverage.  My husband, at this point, was working for a Canadian company, as their sole American employee.  Everything was new as to how to deal with this American employee and his health insurance coverage expectation.  A negotiation was made that the Canadian company would simply pay whatever premium we had on the COBRA coverage for both of us to have health insurance.  This was approximately a $650 monthly benefit.  However, we decided to see what other coverage was out there. Was it cheaper than COBRA?  Was it better coverage?  As we embarked on this journey, we were constantly turned down.  We haven't had any surgeries, hospitalizations, serious illnesses.  No, we were turned down because my spouse had been diagnosed with high blood pressure, and I was 3 points over the "bad limit" on cholesterol.  I also had been checked for an ovarian cyst, which wasn't there, and my doctor had submitted a letter stating such, on my behalf.  Didn't matter.  We were now considered too high a risk to get coverage.

Money wasn't the issue.  We make enough together to pay for any kind of coverage we could get.  But we simply couldn't get ANY coverage outside of the COBRA coverage, because we were too much of a risk.  Wow.

We're now in a spot where my husband will soon be employed under another company that offers American benefits, including health insurance.  Without this life change, our alternative would have been to simply shop the new health exchanges in 2014, when the COBRA ran out.  I wasn't concerned about that option, when I knew we had it.  At least we would HAVE coverage.  The alternative would have been that we would be a more-than-middle-class family that couldn't get health insurance.  There's definitely something wrong with that picture.

I have trouble understanding why so many people are against the health care reform changes ahead for 2014.  I do feel that many of those people likely already have health insurance coverage, and won't even see any changes for themselves.  Sure, the reform act may not be perfect, but nothing else acceptable has been passed.  We can't afford to wait any longer for things to change.  

Results of the survey will be posted in September of this year, and I'll be sure to share them here on this blog with you.


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