You’re young. You have no mortgage. You may or may not live in Brooklyn. And the idea of binding yourself to a 9-to-5 job for the rest of your twenties feels rather stifling to your lofty ambition of becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg or blogger-cum-novelist.
I can relate. Or, at least my boyfriend can. He recently quit his full-time job to start a little company of his own. It was a ballsy move but totally worth it, he assured me – until he had to pay his first COBRA bill.
I can swear I saw a tear roll down his cheek as he signed the $425 check, which he needs more than ever now that he’s gone rogue.
“So uh, what’s the deal with this Obamacare Act everyone’s going nuts over?” he asked, sealing the envelope. “And when can I get some of that action?”
Health care benefits are one great (however unsexy) thing about full-time office jobs. We tend to forget that, being the invincible young’uns we are. But even the most free-spirited of hipsters knows (or should know) that we are not actually invincible. We need health insurance.
So, my newly self-employed boyfriend and I did a little research, and here I present, our top 5 findings:
1. If you’re 26 or under, you’re in luck.
Before Obamacare, insurance companies could remove children enrolled in their parents’ plan at age 19, sometimes older for full-time students. Now, health plans that cover children must continue to extend coverage to kids up to age 26.
- not living with parents
- attending school
- not financially dependent on parents
- eligible to enroll in their employer’s plan
- watching 6 episodes of Workaholics a day (okay, I made that one up)
2. If you’re self-employed, you can get money back!
Self-employed people or those running small businesses (with fewer than 100 employees) will be eligible for some hefty tax credits.
The credits are advance-able, so you can pay lower health insurance premiums each month rather than wait for a whopping reimbursement check come tax time. It is also refundable, so even people with moderate incomes can get the full benefit of the credit.
3. Starting in 2014, you’ll have a cheaper insurance option — probably.
Uncle Sam plans to launch something called Affordable Insurance Exchanges, a one-stop shop where people can compare public and private health plan options and find out what kinds of deductions or credits they’re eligible for. According to the official site, it will be designed to make the insurance market more competitive in our favor.
4. Preventive health care will be covered for all, so no excuses.
Under Obamacare, many insurers are required to cover certain preventive services at no cost to you. And you know what that means: get all your well visits in now, before a Republican comes along and somehow repeals the law.
Some covered preventive services for adults will include: blood pressure and cholesterol screening, alcohol misuse, depression screening, type 2 Diabetes, diet consulting, HIV screening, obesity screening, and STD prevention.
5. Domestic partnerships are awesome.
Before gay marriage was legalized, this was perceived to be the best option for gay couples. But it also seems to be en vogue these days for straight couples that don’t want to “grow up” just yet. If you’re 28 and past the cusp for your parents’ health plan, you can always latch onto your live-in boyfriend or girlfriend’s! With a joint bank account and the right paper work, you don’t even need to say “I do.” (Because really, who does that in big cities before they’re 33?) I realize this provision is not new to Obamacare; it has always been around. But it is certainly new to us.
For more information, check out this timeline of what’s changing and when.