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I was wondering what people who worked seasonally do for health insurance.

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It's definitely an issue.  For us retired folks it's simpler ... either insurance from ex-employers, possibly Pre-existing Conditions insurance through the government (my case) or medicare.  For young people I think the situation is bad.  You can buy health coverage outright but it is super expensive.  Do not sucker for a cheap "limited liability" policy as this will not help you if you really get ill or injured.

Right now...nothing.

Perhaps in the future it will be different.  The ACA is changing the whole system of health insurance.  The exchanges should be running by late fall of this year.  Companies had until 2014, now it's 2015, to comply or face penalties.  The ACA has a seasonal exception but defines seasonal as less than 120 days and many of opportunities are significantly more than that...150-180 being more common.

For a seasonal employer to provide ANY health insurance would be a huge added expense. I think the individual will end up paying regardless what changes .... and for those trying to make a "career" out of seasonal work paying health insurance premiums will be a big chunk out of your paycheck and savings. It is going to be a problem.

If the season is longer than 120 days (many are longer) and has 50 or more employees they face penalties if they do not offer affordable adequate insurance.  Affordable is defined as up to 9.5 percent of income.

If not the employers, the exchanges and subsidies will be available.  My income varies a lot over the years of seasonal work.  I have had a year where I would have just qualified for expanded Medicaid benefits.  Most of the time my premiums would somewhere between the $1000-1200/year for the silver plans(about 5% income), with subsidies covering the rest.  Right now that amount would be for 3-4 months and not really cover anything.

One of the better Subsidy Calculators

Thanks for the link.

I'm wondering if seasonal jobs will be for a max of 119 days so that the employers can avoid the ACA requirements?  And then maybe the rest of the season would be done via ads on Coolworks, or at Job Placement Centers in the nearest town/city?  This would not surprise me at all, Keith. 

Well that wouldn't change the length of the season, just the people.  Now if they could do with under 50 people for the rest of the time that would be an option.  But in many cases that would not be viable.  If they could fill all the positions locally they already do so, that way they do not have the major expenditures of housing and food.  There are many places that significant numbers of employees are picked up locally, but there simply is not enough people to fill the slots.

Then there is the theory that they will all hire part-time staff.  But does that make any sense.  They would have to build another set of housing, feed twice the people.  They would have fewer applicants than they do now...and most places run a little short as it is especially in areas like cooks and housekeeping.  it makes little sense in real world situations...difficult recruiting, higher turnovers, more consumer complaints.  It makes less sense if you have to import that type of workforce.

The companies will have only two real choices starting in 2015.  Find affordable insurance, or pay the penalties.  Some will choose the penalties...but does that change their recruiting abilities?

I have been wondering how this is going to affect seasonals, too.  I am very much looking forward to January 1st next year because on my income, even if I don't qualify for expanded Medicaid (which was expanded in Arizona, I'm still amazed by that!) I will definitely qualify for a subsidy of some sort, especially with the tax deductions I can claim to lower my income. 

BUT HERE'S ONE THING I WORRY ABOUT!  (didn't mean to yell, just wanted to get any reader's attention)  Say January 1st rolls around and I am covered by either expanded Medicaid or insurance with subsidies via the health exchanges - I am going to think twice before leaving for a new state where I may or may not be covered.  I am 46 - this is an age where things can start going wrong to the tune of lots of healthcare dollars.  Perhaps seasonal work is going to become more a province of the young that think they are invincible, or the truly courageous of us middle aged folk?  I don't know how TRANSPORTABLE this insurance is going to be from state to state and I have heard nothing about this issue yet.  Definitely if I have Medicaid in Arizona it is not going to transport to say Big Bend in Texas as Ricky Perry, Governor of Texas, has flat out said, no Medicaid expansion.  Given that those of us who are not tipped tend to qualify for expanded Medicaid, me thinks that more will think twice or three times before leaving actual health coverage.....Just my two cents. Interested to hear what others think of the issues I have raised.....

There is no insurance that is portable.  I have seen several that claim their car insurance is portable from state to state, but everything I have seen from the companies is that it is not, even sometimes within the state.  So with each move you will need to plan for your new states options.

I'm not sure how tipped/not-tipped positions would differentiate.  It is based on your Modified Adjusted Gross Income...the same MAGI that determines IRA contributions, so some deductions are added back into AGI.   Those that are less than 138% of the poverty level would be qualified for Medicaid expansion.  It usually increases every year.  Currently that 138% level a little more than $15,000 for a single person....Alaska and Hawaii have differing poverty levels too.

I usually make more than that, sometimes close and once under.  For those that are usually under the Medicaid level, sticking with states that have expanded would probably be a good idea.  It is also possible that those states will decide to expand after they realize that ACA will not just go away and the millions of dollars the state loses by not expanding trumps philosophy. (The reason Arizona expanded)

I see that as just one of the limiting factors seasonals already have in their requirements.  Examples of other limiting choices...some are only RV available; only inside national parks; only with housing and food available; housing, but sometimes no food is ok; only for places that offer free room and board; only by mountains; only by significant bodies of water; only one or two positions willing to work; only management positions; only non-management positions; only tipped positions within states that do not lower their minimum wage for tipped positions; only small companies; only places with a lot of employees; only within a certain distance or farther than a certain distance from home...there are many self-limting choices already.

I think the more interesting question is will companies that offer insurance become more desirable than those that choose to pay the penalty.  Will those companies that choose to pay the tax penalty also be penalized by having significantly more problem employees?  Right now, with almost no one (except year-rounds) offering insurance it is level...will the best employees migrate to those that will have the best insurance plans?

Oh and to answer the OP's question, what do I do for health insuarance?  I go to Mexico at the moment for all my health and dental, but I have used minute clinics on this side of the border as you can see a nurse practioner for a flat fee and get a scrip written out if you need to.  I have also gone to St. Vincent de Paul before where you can see a doctor for free and get scrips written out for free.

If anyone here is against going to Mexico for health care (?) - here's a prime example of why I do this.  Last September I went to Mexicali for an ultrasound to check on my gallstone issues - how much did I pay walking in off the street for a series of ultrasounds?  With very modern equipment, BTW?  Are you ready? $58.50 US.  No typos there.  That number screams human rights to me - no need to live in terror of bankruptcy if basic procedures are sanely priced.  So to anwer the OP - some charity programs, some Mexico, some herbal medicine on my own. 

You expose one of the ugly truths of American healthcare .... most services are grossly over priced and way more expensive compared with nearly every other country on earth.  It is a travesty that our US citizens cannot obtain affordable healthcare due to the raw greed of hospitals, doctors, lawyers and insurance companies! Socialized medicine may be the ONLY answer.

I couldn't agree with you more.....


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