FOUR WAYS TO GET INSURED
Can't take the stress? Policymakers and health insurers alike would rather have everyone be insured — that, in fact, was a key principle of Massachusetts' health reform two years ago. And there are multiple options, each with its limitations.
For families, RIte Care, the state Medicaid program, is the most affordable option, but while children qualify, up to 250 percent of the federal poverty line (pregnant women up to 350 percent), for parents it's only up to 185 percent, and more limitations may be ahead.
In addition, the smaller RIte Share program helps lower-income workers who would otherwise qualify for RIte Care to pay for employer coverage. Learn more at dhs.ri.gov.
To buy your own insurance, the only option is Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, which covers about 14,000 individuals. To qualify, you can't be eligible for RIte Care or employer coverage. Rates can be much lower if you pass a health screening, and there are several plan choices; there are also subsidies available; go to bcbsri.com.
Business owners can also get coverage in the group market, even if it's just for one person; contact a benefits broker for price quotes.
The National Association for the Self-Employed offers cheaper, more limited plans, but be warned: This is not comprehensive coverage, and the insurer involved, HealthMarkets Inc., was fined $20 million earlier this year for deceptive practices and is now being subjected to tight scrutiny by state officials across the country. To learn more, go to nase.org.
Last, but not least, consider moving to Massachusetts. Along with mandating that all individuals get health coverage, the state has made big efforts to make insurance more affordable, expanding its Medicaid program, offering subsidies, and creating new plans targeted to young adults. The Commonwealth Connector makes it easy to sort through all the options; go to mahealthconnector.org.
Marion Davis can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.