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Saturday, Oct 25, 2014
Health & Fitness

Healthcare Marketplace likely requires insurance for part-timers

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A lot of Tampa area-residents are getting by these days by working more than one part-time job.

Part-time workers make up more than 21 percent of Florida’s workforce. And a third of them are taking those jobs because they can’t find full-time employment, Florida International University researchers said in the State of Working Florida report published this month.

Employers rarely offer health insurance to part-time help, and these workers often struggle to afford anything available on the individual commercial health insurance market. But that doesn’t mean part-time workers aren’t expected to get insurance, according to the new national health insurance mandate that goes into effect Jan. 1.

If their paychecks create enough income to pay federal income tax, part-time workers are likely on the hook to get health insurance — on their own. And that’s why the Healthcare Marketplace that opens Oct. 1 exists. People without access to affordable health insurance can shop online and get subsidies to help pay for coverage.

That’s where Robert from New Port Richey finds himself. He asked The Tampa Tribune’s Healthcare Q&A for direction, and we offered some clues and resources he can use.

We encourage anyone who wants straight talk about how the Affordable Care Act affects them to send us a question at TBO.com/health. While you’re there, you can check out some of the other answers we’ve shared. We’re focused on you, your family and your budget, not the politics.

Q: I’m single, 60, work two part-time jobs and make around $17,000. My current health insurance is $522 a month, up $100 a month this past July. How do I get the subsidy under the new law? I don’t want to go the Medicaid route, although I have already been told by some I will have to. So, where do I stand?

Robert from New Port Richey

Answer: First, you will be required to get insurance to avoid a penalty, and the odds are very likely your employers won’t have options for you. Second, if you want any kind of help paying for that insurance, you must shop on the online Healthcare Marketplace (also called the exchange), which in Florida is being run by the federal government.

Your $17,000 in annual income is 149 percent of the federal poverty level, meaning you should get substantial help paying a monthly premium. It also means you do NOT qualify for Medicaid in Florida.

I suggest you check out the Kaiser Family Foundation’s subsidy calculator. They used general information known about the law to estimate the subsidies you may get. (It’s at http://kff.org/interactive/subsidy-calculator/).

Various factors can affect the amount you pay for insurance on the exchange, such as whether you smoke or if another person in your home makes money. For example, if you don’t smoke, a plan could cost you about $660 a year, according to the calculator. If you do smoke, plan on forking out $4,756.

The subsidy the government would pay is more than $7,500 in both cases.

mshedden@tampatrib.com

(813)259-7365

Twitter: @MaryShedden

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