Between jobs, the state exchange bridges the insurance gap

Alasia Canares

Alasia Canares was able to find insurance on Washington Healthplanfinder when her employer didn’t offer her coverage.

Substitute teachers always have it tough. Students rarely behave as well for the temporary instructor, who is rushing to figure out, or create, a lesson plan, and learn the names in a classroom. The work is sporadic, the benefits non-existent.

And when they do get longer-term work, it’s often a temporary contract. What happens when your health benefits start and then stop again within a year?

Alasia Canares had been working as a substitute teacher in various school districts throughout the state — and paying $500 a month for health insurance. The burden of these bills paired with her rent had become unbearable for her and her husband.

Yet Canares wanted insurance coverage.

From the time she turned 18 until she began teaching at the age of 28, Canares was uninsured. Now 35, she didn’t want to re-experience the anxiety that had dogged her during her youth.

So with help from one of King County’s in-person assisters, Canares enrolled in a subsidized plan on Washington Healthplanfinder.

“I was very excited to sign up for affordable health insurance because it helped my husband and me feel more secure and able to start planning for a family,” said Canares.

Since signing up, Canares and her spouse (also a teacher) found full-time teaching positions that offer health stipends. But these are contract jobs. “We are both very glad to know that there is another option that is reasonably priced because our positions end in August,” said Canares.

When the contract runs out, there’s a cushion

Nowadays, contract positions, part-time work and job transitions are commonplace. So it’s reassuring that the state exchange offers health care coverage during those gap periods when an employer may not.

And, if someone loses their job in the middle of the year, outside the “open enrollment” periods, they can still enroll because it counts as a special qualifying event.

“I would definitely encourage someone to sign-up for health insurance (and I have) through the health care exchange,” said Canares. “It’s is very reasonably priced and it gives you piece of mind. If something happens, you are covered.”

(Enroll online at www.wahealthplanfinder.org)

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