Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Get the Insurance!

Tuesday's Star Tribune article about a young family trying to decide whether to buy health insurance was instructive on several levels.

Beyond the topic itself, I found by googling the couple's names that I know the husband's sister (which I realized because I can see her as a mutual friend on Facebook). So chalk up another one to life in the age of the interweb.

On the topic, though, Jamie and Wesley Ward put themselves out there in the paper, sharing their circumstances: Two children under three. One job (his). Low enough income to qualify the kids for Medical Assistance, but not low enough to qualify the parents.

A plan they found through MNsure would leave them with a monthly payment of $347 (just over $4,100 a year), which as a payment for two adults, one of whom has asthma, seems pretty reasonable to me. You could spend that much on one emergency room visit.

But Jamie is quoted as saying in the story that she "did the math," even consulting a financial planner, and "It might be cheaper to pay a hospital bill if something happens than to pay a premium every month."

Yeah, it might. In some years. And this from an asthmatic woman who has been rationing her inhaler use since she lost the insurance she had at her old job.

I was disturbed to read this in the article, though:

MNsure’s website gave the Wards hope, telling them they qualified for a tax subsidy to reduce the cost of premiums for plans they could purchase on the exchange. Later they learned that was incorrect.

Families generally qualify for subsidies when premiums eat up more than 9.5 percent of their household income; the Wards’ income put them just above that threshold.
So if $4,100 is just less than 9.5 percent of their income, that means they're bringing in about $43,000 a year.

According to the MNsure fact sheet families of four with incomes up to $94,200 qualify for tax credits. So what's up with that? And there's even supposed to be additional cost-sharing for families of four earning up to $58,875.

I wonder if they didn't get some bad advice somewhere along the way. Or is it because the children aren't on their plan?

I hope they find this out and get some insurance.

1 comment:

Gina said...

They need an insurance broker, not a financial advisor. MNSure has a broker directory, so they have no excuse about finding one. It certainly sounds like they've gotten bad guidance and they need to stop, back up to the beginning, and do over. I don't know why a couple would not include their kids on their medical insurance policy, but the only way what they said makes sense is if they didn't.