A Freelancer's State of Health
Healthcare is a highly political subject at the moment. For the record, I think both sides of the debate have legitimate gripes to bring to the table, and there's a long way to go on healthcare in the US. I try to steer clear of the politics here and stick to a brief account of my experiences in the healthcare system:
New York State, as well as New York City, with its' robust local government and entrepreneurial minds (nod to my tea-party-minded friends and family) was one of the handful of states that actually made a large effort to implement the new law, rather than dig their heels in to try to sink it (that's not a matter of politics, thats a matter of reality). Some new private individuals even jumped on board to create new healthcare companies that are trying to change the fundamental problems that everyone can see with healthcare companies, which is actually pretty exciting-- Seeing as I have to now, by law, and I will only be invincible and young for so long, I decided to finally get back into the healthcare system.
The NYstateofHealth website was government website asking annoying financial questions. This is always a problem for freelancers as I had more than 20 “employers” last year and no way of knowing if I would be “working” for them again. A helpful chat with someone at the website and they were able to walk me through adding my own guesstimates as to my income for the coming year. I basically parroted last year’s income, and will have to keep an eye on things if it looks like I make more or less. I can also go back and submit new information later evidently. I'm not sure how this will play out in reality, but we’ll see.
Almost all of the plans in the same pricing bracket as my previous insurer (more than a year ago, I have been uninsured since it lapsed) were actually better overall than my old coverage- with Lower premiums, and more general coverage, at least from what I remember. This is not a scientific point for point comparison, but I remember being very confused and having few places to ask as to what was covered and what wasn’t, not to mention being largely unusable.
My old insurance, provided with special arrangement through a union was a bit of an enigma for me. At the time, insurance was something I had, and crossed my fingers that it would cover me if the proverbial, or perhaps actual, shit hit the fan (that would be very unsanitary). I had even read about my coverage in detail, and consider myself pretty intelligent, but much of it was still a whim and a hope.
If nothing else, The exchange was pretty helpful at explaining it, and oddly enough my future insurance company was somewhat helpful in that regard too. The basic levels of care that the law spells out makes me feel safer that I will be covered in the event of an emergency, not to mention some long overdue shots and preventative care! (watch out for rusty-tetanus-inducing metal).Aside from a few little glitches due to traffic, the whole process went pretty smoothly. Even on the last day available to enroll, go NYS!. (I hope chronic procrastination is covered under my plan, or is that an excluded pre-existing condition?)
All in all, it’s going to take some time to see how healthcare evolves over the next few years. As a freelancer, I’m grateful to have more options, more affordable plans, and more information than was ever available to me before. There’s definitely more work on healthcare to be done, but I’m happy to not be facing the prospect of economic destruction if I were to get injured at work, fall ill, or worse. We’ll see how it all plays out.
PS- Oscar the grouch was chosen because my new insurer will be- Oscar Health Insurance of New York