Affordable Care Act, Obamacare — August 26, 2014 at 11:27 am

Changing jobs? Obamacare has got you covered no matter what


The Affordable Care Act gives everyone the freedom to change jobs without worrying about finding affordable insurance, even outside the open enrollment period.

When Maria changed from a job that provided health insurance to one that didn’t, she wasn’t worried for a moment about getting covered — even though she has a pre-existing condition. That’s because she knew she could get insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) no matter what.

“I didn’t go a single day without coverage because I knew what my new salary would be,” she says. “I could sign up immediately using the estimator tool based on what my income would be to qualify for a tax credit. I didn’t have to wait for my new job to start, which was awesome.”

Thanks to the ACA, fondly known as Obamacare, Maria found a plan that’s actually better than the one she got through her previous employer, for a little over $100 per month, because she qualified for tax credits. It’s only $5 or $10 a month more than her old plan, but the coverage is better and has a reasonable $600 deductible. Although some of her prescriptions cost a little more, she’s paying less overall every month for all the medications she needs. Plus, she gets her birth control prescription at no cost and just had her annual physical — which was free, as it is for everyone with an ACA-compliant plan.

Maria appreciated not feeling trapped in her old job, because having insurance options gave her the freedom to take this new and better one. About eight years ago, she was in a job she hated but couldn’t leave because health insurance was out of reach financially. The best she could do with a pre-existing condition was a catastrophic plan for $75 a month that “covered almost nothing” with a $10,000 deductible. She stayed in that job for a year and a half, a choice she wasn’t forced to make this time.

As a public librarian, most positions are part-time. I could have left my full-time job with benefits and combined a couple of part-time jobs — and still would have been able to afford insurance. The ACA made that a much more viable option.

The moment she found out she was changing jobs, 33-year-old Maria went to to check out her options. She perused the plans, weighed the pros and cons of each, then went back and enrolled. She said it took about 40 minutes total on two visits to complete the process — and this was during the last two weeks of the extended open enrollment period in March, when website traffic was extremely heavy.

I was Team Obamacare in the first place, but it still exceeded my expectations. It was straightforward and simpler than I expected. Plus, when I had to call back with a question a couple of weeks later the customer service experience was a totally pleasant one.

Although Maria got coverage at the end of the official open enrollment period, people like her who change jobs or have another life change can enroll at any time during the year.

In fact, a new report from Enroll America shows that about 62,464 uninsured adults in Michigan are eligible to enroll in health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace thanks to a special enrollment period. The report shows that those Michiganders will likely experience a qualifying life event such as moving, getting married, giving birth, or gaining citizenship that triggers a 60-day special enrollment period, which means they can get covered before 2015 open enrollment begins on November 15, 2014. The same is true in other states. Visit for details.

Maria admits she went into shopping for coverage with a “sympathetic mindset.” But she urges everyone to do the same.

If people assume the experience will be horrible, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Approach it with an open mind and just a little bit of patience, and it will exceed your expectations.