As always, let me disclaim that I am NOT a health insurance agent or expert. I am just sharing what I have learned and recommending you consult a professional. Without a doubt, I do recommend taking the time to really educate yourself about your health insurance options if you are buying your policy independently.
I HAD heard of bridge policies – designed to act as a gap between loss of coverage for whatever reason and the next opportunity to enroll in “Obamacare.” Going forward, I’ll use the official abbreviation of ACA for the Affordable Care Act. These policies are NON-ACA compliant.
That means they HAVE exclusions for pre-existing conditions.
It also means they are substantially….SUBSTANTIALLY less expensive.
Here is the kicker, and what I did NOT know. You can buy bridge policies as an ongoing method of insurance.
As long as you do NOT have one of the pre-existing conditions that would exclude you, such as a heart condition, cancer, etc, you are allowed to just purchase these types of policies, instead of ACA compliant ones. There are a couple “gotchas” that I want you to be aware of:
1) Talk to an Independent Health Insurance Agent
The “Navigators” that are part of the ACA process cannot talk to you or really give you guidance about health insurance in general. They can only talk about differences between their ACA-compliant policies. Ask your insurance agent if bridge policies would be an option for you.
2) Timing Matters
Bridge policies are for a specific period of time, up to 12 months. If you develop an exclusionary condition while covered, you will not be able to get another bridge policy when it ends. You can only sign up for ACA during open-enrollment (unless you have an exemption like losing a job). So, it might be wise to time your policy end date during open-enrollment. Ask your insurance agent.
3) There IS a penalty
There IS a tax penalty for choosing this option. Talk to your accountant. For my family, the combined cost of the penalty AND the bridge policy was still considerably less than the premium for an ACA compliant policy.
4) Stay Healthy
Without a doubt, the key to using these policies is being healthy. If you already have an exclusionary condition, then most likely they won’t work for you. But if you can stay healthy, bridge policies may be an affordable alternative.
Talk to an Insurance professional.
I recently read that one thirty-minute walk per day can make an incredible difference in your overall health. See you on the trail.