Mary Beth Writes
Pals, I was reading letters at a website I look at often. A woman wrote that her 62-year old husband had been unexpectedly laid-off from his job. She said she didn't know where to begin to think about health insurance (and a lot more).  I talked to Len.  Man, we have been here.
This is what Len wrote. This answer is too long to post on someone else's website so we are sharing it here. 
...
Says Len:
You are in a difficult situation.  You can buy a medical insurance policy through an agent, outside of any state exchange and outside of the ACA (Obamacare).  It might cover you, your spouse and any children.  There are many different kinds of policies, which an agent will explain.  You will probably find that the policy costs a great deal more than you would have thought and the coverage will not cover many of the things you feel are important.

You have two more options:  buying healthcare through the ACA (Obamacare) or continuing your existing plan through COBRA.  
If you buy insurance through the ACA, it will have certain minimum health care needs covered.  There are differences between plans, but they are summarized and described on the ACA website.  They also rate plans as "Gold/Silver/Bronze" to help you.  It is confusing, and kind of mind-numbing, but you should be able to see what is available and make a decision.  When you compare policies, you will also see the cost, which is quite expensive.  The important point about the ACA plans is that the price shown is the "list price."  After you make a selection, a second part of the ACA shows you how much the government will help pay; that reduces the amount that you actually pay for health insurance.  
This is worth repeating.  The process is, first, you tell the website how much you think you will earn in the course of the year.  They take that amount and decide how much they can give you to help you pay for the insurance.  That means that the Gold plan is still more than the Bronze plan, but the total amount you pay is much more affordable if you have a limited income.
Two fast notes:  The amount of support you get depends on income; rich people don't get as much as poor people.  You tell the ACA how much you think you will earn; at the end of the year, when you do your taxes, you tell them how much you actually earned.  If you earned more than the estimate, you will need to pay back the ACA.   Also, people talk about "Open enrollment period."  That is for people who had no insurance before.  If you lose your job and health benefits, it becomes a 'Qualifying Event,' and you can get coverage through the ACA at that time.  So, the open enrollment issue doesn't apply to you. 
ACA isn't the only way to go.  It sounds as if your husband was earning a substantial salary at his previous job.  It may be that he will get work elsewhere soon, with or without health care.  If that's the case, then you won't get much support to help you pay down the premium.  If he does not get another job, the support might be considerable.  You need to make this estimation when you decide what you want to do.
If your husband had good health insurance at his previous job, you might want to consider COBRA.  That lets you keep the same health coverage you had when you were working; except that you pay the whole thing.  You will discover that your previous employer paid quite a bit of the premium, and COBRA is expensive.  One bright light is that, in a group plan, everyone gets the same rate as one another; old people don't pay more than young people.  In our case, I worked at a job that had many young employees, which meant that the premiums for all employees was sort of low.  When I was laid off I was 63, and I found that the COBRA coverage was actually cheaper than coverage through the ACA.  
You can't get government support to help you pay down the premiums through COBRA coverage; on the other hand, that means you don't have to make any estimates about your income and if you get a part-time job or free-lance, you won't pay any more.  The downside of COBRA is that you can only maintain it for 18 months; at that time, you will need to find another solution (including coverage through the ACA).

Comments

Thank you for your notes on obtaining health insurance. We have lots to decide within the next month so your thoughts were very helpful.
Mary Beth's picture

Good Luck! Len and I know very few people our ages who retired in a calm , orderly, and predictable way. It seems as if the employment market is so volatile that most of us are being squeezed out by market pressures on businesses. If they CAN let go of their older employees, they do. Not fun, but we can do this.

They are tax credits. What tax credit is income?
Mary Beth's picture

You are right, Holly. This statement of ours is wrong, "Also, the amount that the ACA gives you to help pay the premium is taxable income." One does have to pay properly adjusted taxes on whatever income one earns - but the assistance to help pay ACA premiums in not new income - so one wouldn't pay taxes on it. You'd just have to pay up to whatever your designated amount was for that year. Thanks for noting that. Next day: I removed that sentence, in case you are a VERY detail-minded person, wondering what just happened here.

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Frugal? Road Trip to New Mexico

If our finances were stretched we wouldn’t have gone to New Mexico. We are doing fine despite the advice that says one ought to retire with a million dollars in the bank. Imagine that.

1. We and, at this point, about half the nation, have had our Covid vaccines so we felt safe and ready to see something new. However, we traveled to a place where they had worked WITH the effort to fight this pandemic. This limited our choices and is the #1 reason we didn’t go to the Badlands. How we spend $ is our power.

The Mindful Chickens are Wordy Today

Other people call them “frugal things I did lately”. I call them Mindful Chickens because they are about:

  • Being Cheap (cheap, cheep).
  • Being thoughtful about how choices affect our community and our earth.
  • Paying attention to the constant tumble of dollars and choices.

This is my collection of wise choices and dastardly schemes from the last two months.

ONE: Our electric toothbrush/water pick would no longer hold a charge but a new one costs more than $100. Len took it to the battery store where they replaced it for $15.

Mindful Chickens - Plastic & Hunger 12/20/2020

I went for a walk on Wednesday and saw this mitten on a sidewalk. When I was at the same spot on Friday, it was still there, so I brought it home because it is a hand-knitted kid mitten, ya know? Any knitters out there interested in making it a mate, so that we could give it to a kid in my community or your? It's 7" from top to ribbed bottom. 

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The point of “Mindful Chickens” is to spend less money while being mindful of the environment and our human values. We can try, right?

Holy Mackerel! Mindful Chickens 12/12/2020

Yamiche and Weijia licking out the mackerel bowl this morning.

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I said I would write “mindful things” we did this week. The agenda of “Mindful Chickens” is to spend less money plus be mindful of the environment and our other values at the same time. Sometimes, one of those purposes wins over the other, but we can think before we spend, right?

1. I cut my hair. This is not a particular skill of mine, but I can do it well enough to not look like the Pittsburgh Paint Dutch boy.

Who Let the Chickens Out?

Mindful Chickens i.e., being frugal and living by our values instead of by blithering consumerism is how this blog started. Yet I seldom post lists anymore about choices Len and I make that hit that marker because I can tell from who follows me that this is not why most of you are here.

But today I have a lot of things I want to accomplish. Preparing the Light Posts takes me a long time so I am not going to do one – I do plan to be back at it Monday.

7-6-2020 Mindful QUARANTINED Chickens

(Thanks, KJR, for the funny fluffy chicken photo!) 

Other people call them “frugal things I did lately”. I call them Mindful Chickens because they are about:

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