With Paul being unemployed, and me being self-employed, there was no employer-sponsored health plan for us to fall back on. See what we did to remedy this. | https://www.frugalconfessions.com/unemployed/how-were-handling-health-insurance-in-unemployment.php

While I don’t wish to discount the entire month of November—aside from a ton of paperwork, it was a pretty nice month—I can say that in the back of my mind there was a ticking time bomb counting down to November 30th (aka the day we were losing our health insurance). With Paul being unemployed, and me being self-employed, there was no employer-sponsored health plan for us to fall back on. Add in the craze and confusion of Obamacare, and you can see why November 30th was a bit of a sore spot in our household.

With Paul being unemployed, and me being self-employed, there was no employer-sponsored health plan for us to fall back on. Click To Tweet


This post may contain affiliate links - it's how we keep the lights on around here. Here's our policy.

It also did not help that Paul’s company waited 21 days to send out our COBRA information. Of course, the delay did not end up mattering because the amount we would have had to pay to continue our coverage with them was an astounding $1,837.82 per month ($1,765.85 for medical and $71.97 for dental).


I had envisioned it costing a staggering $800 per month, so this number had me laughing in hysterics…as well as rushing to the phone to find an alternative.

Going with USAA and a PPO Major Medical Plan + a Bonus

Once again, my husband’s military benefits have helped us out. I was able to call USAA and talk with a healthcare specialist. He was extremely knowledgeable not only of his own plans, but of the Healthcare Insurance Marketplace (he was even able to estimate the cost of what we would pay on the exchange to see if we would receive a subsidy and if we wanted to do that instead of use USAA. See below.).

Psst: here's my full USAA health insurance plan review.

We’re in a good place right now with the free preventative care portion of the Affordable Healthcare Act being in effect. This is because usually with a Major Medical Plan, preventative doctor visits are not covered. But because of the new laws, we can now get preventative care costs included with our policy (such as a well woman visit). These are generally the types of appointments we have throughout the year anyway (knock on wood), so that works well for us. Here are some specifics:

  • Cost: Our cost for this plan is just $193.80 per month for both of us.
  • Deductibles: There is a $5,000 per person deductible, with an annual maximum of $10,000/per person out of our pockets for participating providers.
  • Plan Payout Cap: There is no cap on the amount the insurance company will pay out.
  • Doctor Appointments/Prescriptions/Co-Pays: There are no copays with this plan. However, the coinsurance for doctor visits and prescriptions is 50%.
  • Referrals: Written/verbal approval to see a specialist is not required for this plan.

How Long Can We Keep this Plan?

We are allowed to keep this plan until December 2014, at which point we will have to switch to a plan that meets all of the requirements under the new healthcare system.

Pre-Existing Conditions

Pre-Existing Conditions will no longer be a factor in healthcare plans as of January 1, 2014. In the meantime, we submitted our Certificate of Creditable Coverage from our previous health insurance plan to show that our health insurance has not lapsed. This gives us some protections against pre-existing condition limitations in the meantime. Check this article out for more information.

Our Estimated Cost on the Health Exchange Marketplace

We were fortunate in that we did not have to attempt to log onto the new Health Insurance Marketplace website. This is because the insurance rep at USAA was able to estimate what we would pay on the exchange, and to answer any and all questions we had about whether or not USAA or a plan on the Marketplace would be better for us.

On the Marketplace, a plan would cost $508 per month for the two of us. Because of our current income, we would receive a $200 per month subsidy, so the total cost would be $308 per month.

Have you attempted to find a plan on the new Health Insurance Marketplace? How did it go?

Catch-Up On My Documented Self-Employment Journey (spoiler alert: there's a layoff, a few tears, lessons learned, financial changes, and all sorts of goodies that occurred after I pulled the plug on my 9-5):

I Have Chosen to Chance the Rapids: Taking My Writing Full-Time>>
Blogging and Writing Full-Time: Financial Changes to Come>>
Blogging and Writing Full-Time: One Month Update>>
Self-Employment Update: Six Months After Taking that Leap>>
Contingency Plan “Husband-Lost-His-Job” is in Full Swing>>
Update on the Unemployment Situation in Our Household>>
How We're Handling Health Insurance in Unemployment>>
Surviving {and Thriving} In My First Year of Self-Employment>>
What We Did to Financially Survive 5 Months of Unemployment + a Free Gift for You>>
Behind-the-Scenes of Frugal Confessions' Second Year in Business>>


16 replies
  1. Joe
    Joe says:

    It’s great that you were able to find affordable heath insurance. $200/month is really good. We are with my wife’s employer’s sponsored insurance right now.
    I’m trying to find a plan for my mom and it’s hard too. A moderate plan cost $650/month, but I think she’d be able to get a pretty substantial subsidy because she doesn’t have any income…
    We are delaying a bit because she’s out of the country right now and will be back in Feb.

    • FruGal
      FruGal says:

      We feel very fortunate. It sounds like your mother would qualify for a subsidy. I hope the application process goes well!

  2. jestjack
    jestjack says:

    MAN…This sounds like a pretty good deal. Did you qualify because of your husband’s military service. The plan does sound unique…No co-pay…but 50% co-insurance…and I’m guessing yearly wellness visits are covered in full…Sure beats $1800 + a month….who can afford that?

    • FruGal
      FruGal says:

      Yes–his military service is the reason we could go with USAA (or you would need to be a family member of someone who is in the military/veteran).

      Yearly wellness preventative visits that are included in all plans now are included in ours. Hurrah!

  3. Jay@MoneyBulldog
    Jay@MoneyBulldog says:

    What luck! 🙂 I guess things happen for a reason. I don’t think you can ever find another health care plan as affordable and adequate as that.

    It’s amazing how being frugal and financially-aware helps you to land these awesome deals.

  4. Little House
    Little House says:

    I absolutely love USAA. They are so helpful. I’m glad you were able to get a reasonably priced plan with them. My healthcare is covered by my employer, but we use USAA for our other insurance needs. It’s great to know they can also help with healthcare if need be.

  5. Bryce @ Save and Conquer
    Bryce @ Save and Conquer says:

    Sounds like you got a good deal through USAA, although the deductible is very high. Does this mean you are eligible for an HSA?

    We get our Kaiser HMO plan through work. We pay $243 per month and work picks up the rest. They also offer a PPO, but we like our Kaiser coverage.

    • FruGal
      FruGal says:

      Hi Bryce,

      No HSA. The deductible is high, but it works for us as we have a fully stocked emergency fund and can cover it if need be (knock on wood!).

      Your work plan sounds great! We were paying about that for our insurance on my husband’s plan with an HRA.

  6. Glennaa
    Glennaa says:

    I know there have been a lot of complaints about the ACA, but I think it’s a step forward. As a frugal saver who has just hit 50, My goal is to quit my fulltime job and do contract work part time. The only problem was that without a “real” job, health insurance via COBRA or pre ACA market was quite expensive. I’m in decent health, so my goal with health insurance is wealth preservation – in other words, I don’t mind having a high deductible and paying my minor costs, but if I had an accident or heart attack, It wouldn’t cost me a large percentage of my savings. I was able to find good coverage for $315 (no subsidy), which is considerably less than COBRA, allows me to contribute to an HSA, and has a max out of pocket of $6000. Hopefully the ACA will survive long enough for me to realize this dream.

    • Amanda L Grossman
      Amanda L Grossman says:

      Thank you for sharing your experience with ACA Glennaa! It is much harder to leave a formal job in the old healthcare market, so it’s nice to have an alternative. I guess we’ll still have to wait to see how it all plays out in the next year and beyond.

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