The Affordable Care Act and You: How Can Freelance Writers Benefit from Health Care Reform?
By Michael Cahill
Self-employed people such as freelance writers often lack the cushy benefits packages enjoyed by their salaried counterparts at traditional employers. This ends up translating into big monthly expenses that add up down the road. Thankfully, one of the biggest of those expenses, health insurance, looks to be becoming a bit easier to manage with the introduction of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The changes to the American health care system brought by the ACA have a big effect on two things: cost and coverage. Tax subsidies are in place to help you save on plans, and the introduction of mandated Essential Health Benefits serve to make every plan better. To learn more about how the ACA can help you get you a good deal on health insurance, read on.
Four Options For All Needs
For the sake of simplicity, the online marketplace has divided plans into four categories. These categories are Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. These titles mean what you might expect them to mean. The Platinum plans are going to have a notably higher monthly premium than their Bronze equivalents, but in exchange they cover a larger percentage of your out of pocket costs. Bronze plans sport a lower premium, but only cover 60 percent of your medical expenses, the rest is paid out of pocket when you see the doctor.
How Premiums Will Be Kept Down
One unique advantage of the plans at the ACA’s online marketplaces, also known as exchanges, is that they are eligible for an income based tax subsidy. Sadly not everyone is for the tax subsidy but many people who don’t already have health insurance are likely to be. To be eligible, your income will have to be between 100 percent and 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Line. Those at the lower end of that range will get a bigger subsidy than those at the top. To see how much of a subsidy you might be eligible for I’d recommend using this calculator from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
How To Make The Big Choice
Now that you know your options, how do you make a choice between all of these plans? You have to weigh all the factors that might affect the cost of your health care. Lower premium plans are not always as affordable as they seem. If you find yourself visiting the doctor frequently for any number of reasons, the greater out of pocket costs can end up costing you a lot of money. A platinum plan will cover 90 percent of your costs, but what good does that do you if you rarely go to the doctor? You need to figure out the average amount of medical care you use in a year to understand what plan is right for you.
Ten Improvements To Healthcare
The ACA’s Essential Health Benefits are ten categories of medical services that every health insurance plan sold under the ACA will have to offer. Meaning that even an inexpensive cheap plan will still cover you for all the bare minimum medical service you need. It should be noted though that these are categories and not specific medical services. Rather than choosing to define a list of medical services as essential benefits on a federal level, the Obama administration left it up to the states to decide what the essential benefits will be within their borders. Take a look at the ACA’s ten Essential Health Benefits Categories here.
Know Everything You Can
Now that you understand the basics of the big changes taking place as part of the ACA, it’s time for you to get yourself a plan. It is best to do as much research as you can about the ACA. If you are having trouble choosing a plan, a licensed broker is a helpful person to talk with. Once you think you know enough to make an informed decision, take action and visit HealthCare.gov or your state’s health insuranc exchange. Finally having that comprehensive health insurance plan that doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg will no doubt take a lot of weight off of your shoulders.
Michael Cahill is the Editor of the Vista Health Solutions Blog. He writes about the health care system, health insurance industry and the Affordable Care Act. Follow him on Twitter at @VistaHealthMike