Posts made in September, 2013

Freelancing and Healthcare in Vermont

Posted by on Sep 27, 2013 in News

Freelancing and Healthcare in Vermont

If you’re a full time freelancer in Vermont, you probably have some questions regarding the changes that start next year in the laws surrounding healthcare. I’m a part time freelancer (with a full time day job), and was curious, so I asked Vermont Health Connect (VHC) some questions and got some answers. Full time freelancers who have been going without insurance, will no longer have that option because of the ‘individual mandate’. If you choose not to buy coverage, you’ll have to pay a tax penalty. You probably already know that the state will be operating an “exchange” or “market place” which will be the only place you can purchase healthcare coverage. You probably also already know that there will be only two insurance companies doing business in this marketplace (MVP and Blue Cross). They will both offer a variety of plans with a pretty wide range of prices and services, just as they have for years. One of the new twists with this coverage is that many people will be eligible for subsidies from the state. VHC has a coverage calculator on their website to help you figure out what, if any, subsidy you’ll be eligible for. Seven Days has a great article on VHC where they follow five different scenarios through the ‘Navigator’ system, and discuss the options that might make sense for each person or family. Navigators are free advisers for Vermonters who need help deciding which healthcare option to purchase and answer questions about the packages. One scenario not covered in Seven Days’ article is a single or married full time freelancer who is looking for coverage for him or herself. The first thing I learned here is that if this freelancer were married, the only way to get a subsidy is if their spouse’s employer did not offer spouse coverage. If the spouse’s employer makes healthcare coverage available to spouses of employees, even at a ridiculously high price, the freelancer will not be eligible for any subsidy.* If you’re like me, and you have a full time job, it’s my understanding that your employer is given a choice to either buy “group insurance” where employees get to choose their own plan rather than the “one size fits all” way most plans are these days. This option would be purchased by the employer through VHC. If the employer chooses not to provide coverage, they can direct employees to go the the Individual exchange/marketplace and purchase healthcare insurance for themselves. I don’t know if employers will get a bulk rate or a tax break for buying group insurance, so there may be no incentive for employers to purchase coverage for employees. In fact, I believe one of the goals of this health care reform in Vermont in particular, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in general, is to decouple insurance from employment. Where I work, the...

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