Statewide farm editor identifies self-employed workers’ problems with Obamacare, and hers with Congress

Farmers and other self-employed people may have special trouble maneuvering through the process of obtaining health insurance on the state exchange, writes Sharon Burton, editor and publisher of The Farmer’s Pride, Kentucky’s statewide agricultural newspaper.

Sharon Burton

“The first thing I realized is the system doesn’t know how to deal with people who are self-employed,” Burton writes. “I figure that’s just about every farmer in the commonwealth” of Kentucky, which is operating its own exchange, Kynect.

“My husband is a owner/operator commercial truck driver, so his income can fluctuate from year to year. When I adjusted our income based on that fluctuation, the system was not happy with me because I estimated our 2014 income to be different than our 2012,” Burton writes, adding that her kynector, a state-paid adviser who helps people use the exchange about it, “She said she too had problems signing up anyone who was self-employed. She also warned me that we should notify Kynect if our income varied even within $1,000 or could face serious ramifications at the end of the year.”

Kynect spokeswoman Gwenda Bond told Kentucky Health News, “If self-employed individuals have variable incomes there might be an extra step for them to accurately verify income. They would have to submit additional information, in some cases, because the income verification system accepts the amount reported only if it is within 10 percent of what the IRS has on file for the most recent year.”

Burton adds, “There are a lot of bugs in the system. For one, if your spouse’s employer offers family coverage – even if they don’t pay any portion of it – you are not eligible for any subsidies. We all know insurance offered through companies often provides family coverage but it isn’t affordable.
Now you will be disqualified from Obamacare because that unaffordable plan is out there.”

Burton has also lost patience with Congress. “The ones who voted for it spend all their time defending it, and the ones who voted against it spend their time trying to make sure it fails,” she writes. “Just fix it people. Get on with it. It’s like starting a business. You have a plan, but where you end up often looks a lot different than where you start because you make changes as needed. This is a starting point; let’s move on to the next stage and stop bellyaching.” (Read more)

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