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Friday, Oct 31, 2014
Healthcare Exchange Q&A

How does an unemployed couple avoid a health insurance penalty or find coverage?

Published:

Q: I am 39 years old and my wife is 49, and we both are unemployed. What do we need to do so we don’t get penalized? Any suggestions to get insurance until we find jobs? Michael from Tampa

A: People without any real source of income are not going to be required to have health insurance, according to the Affordable Care Act. For you and your wife, that would technically be at or below $15,500 a year.

You will need to file an exemption application, which you can get at the online marketplace, www.healthcare.gov.

It sounds as if you would be interested in getting health insurance, but right now your options are limited by finances and restrictions within the healthcare law. The state of Florida has opted to not expand Medicaid, the state/federal health insurance that serves poor children, pregnant women and the disabled.

If that remains the case, you will be able to shop on the health exchange, but you will not be eligible for any financial help in covering monthly premiums. It’s unrealistic for the government to expect you to pay for coverage you can’t afford: hence the exemption.

Living in Hillsborough County does provide you with another possible option. Since 1991, the Hillsborough County Health Care Plan has provided general health coverage to uninsured adult residents living at or below the federal poverty level. To learn more about whether you qualify, call (813) 272-5555.

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