I’m 41 years old. I’m at the tail end of what’s been a drawn out—if amicable and not particularly contentious—divorce. And I’m scared.
You see, my whole life I’ve had health insurance. I’ve never had to think about it much, honestly, because it’s just always been there, always been provided for me. Over my lifetime, I’ve been covered by my parents’ policies, then health insurance provided by my graduate school assistantship, my job and for the last 10 years by my husband’s work. I’ve never had to worry about going to the doctor, paying for a prescription or undergoing tests. And I see now how hugely privileged and fortunate I was that I never had to grapple with those worries.
But before the end of summer, in just a month or two, that will be going away. And no, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say this terrifies me.
My daughter will still be covered under my ex’s policy, which is certainly a relief and blessing. And my health is good, which should help me qualify for lower rates. But in this aspect of my life, as with many others, I’m now faced with a lot of uncertainty, and no strong sense of what my options are or what the future holds for me.
What kind of health insurance can I even afford as a self-employed single mom? Will I be able to go to the doctor regularly, or only when disaster strikes? What kind of prescription coverage can someone with my income get, and where will that leave me if I become seriously ill? How will I be able to bear the additional expenses?
Friends have suggested I consider COBRA, but from what I’ve heard, the rates are generally higher than if I tried to strike out and get insurance on my own, since I’m healthy. My first plan of attack is to approach the insurance provider my family has been using these 10 or so years, and basically ask them what they can offer me, and at what cost per month.
I’ve found a few websites that appear to be health-care plan clearinghouses where you can purchase plans online, but I worry about going through a website to get coverage. My biggest fear, however, is that having no real sense of what reasonable costs are for different kinds of coverage, I might get stuck with a plan that isn’t what I need.
How have those of you who’ve been in my position found reasonable health insurance that fits your needs?
I’m also realizing that I need to look at other kinds of insurance. Life insurance, for one, is something I’ve never had.
Where would you begin when approaching these issues? I’d really love to hear your experiences, insights and suggestions about these topics—believe me, I can use them.