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About Me

About Me

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Hi, I’m Elaina and I want to help you live life on your terms, find a career you love, and travel as often as you want. 

 

I’ve lived, worked, and traveled to more than 60 countries, including some pretty off-the-beaten path destinations like Mongolia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Paraguay. I’ve also lived out of a suitcase as a full-time nomad for the past 4.5 years, ever since leaving my management consulting gig in New York back in 2013 when I landed an international role at a media company that sent me all over the world to work. You can read my full story here

 

What makes my story unique is that I’ve traveled AND built a professional career, working for companies like IBM and Uber over the years. I’ve also spent long stretches of time freelancing and traveling adventurously through South America, Asia, and Africa. I’m currently freelance writing, coaching professionals through career transitions, and working on a few small business ideas while splitting my time between Berlin, the US, and India. 

 

I write about self-development, digital nomadism, charting unconventional life paths, finding REAL jobs overseas, pursuing long-term travel, and living more purposefully in a fast-paced, confusing world. There’s simply no one-size-fits-all model for creating a life you love. I’m not a full-time digital nomad and I’m not a full-time corporate professional: I’ve done things a bit differently and I think it’s feasible for more people to live “off the beaten path” this way. I hope my blog lets you see that it’s both possible and practical.  

 

I started this blog because I want to help you find an exciting career, travel the world, break the norms, and develop yourself both personally and professionally. Read on or get in touch to set up a 1:1 session with me: elaina@lifebefore30.com.

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How to Enroll in a Health Insurance Plan When You’re Self-Employed and/or Turning 26

Posted on August 25th, 2015

Learning to understand a healthcare plan is like trying to pick up elementary Japanese on the red-eye to Tokyo. Order another Kirin, my friend, because you’re going to need it.

 

I turn 26 in a couple weeks and as someone who is a freelancer and losing eligibility to be covered under my parents insurance, I had to purchase my own health insurance and use the marketplaces set up by the Affordable Care Act to enroll.

 

Initially, it was a huge headache, which you’d know if you have even looked at your state’s health marketplace, but now that I’ve come out on the other side, it actually wasn’t as bad as I thought when I first started.

 

What made it monumentally harder was figuring it all out on my own and without someone who had done it before guiding me along. As I was going through the process, I also didn’t find much useful information on the internet, and hardly anything written by another person in my situation, so I thought I’d document and share my experience to save you some trouble. (Of course, your situation may be different based on your employment status, state of residence, and income level.)

 

Here’s an overview of my process:

 

– Signed up for an account on my state’s marketplace. (New York for me — visit healthcare.gov and find out from there where you need to enroll.)
– Most questions on the application were straightforward. Took 45 minutes to fill it out and I called my state’s hotline to ask for help when I wasn’t sure on an item. (Waiting time was 10-15 minutes on a weekday afternoon.)
– Estimated my income to the most accurate level possible and understood I’d have to adjust it later if I was off-base.
– Checked the box that I was becoming ineligible because of a life event (turning 26) and that I did not have health insurance offered by my employer. This triggers a Special Enrollment Period, which allows you to enroll in marketplace coverage outside of the normal enrollment period.
– Browsed plans in my rough price range (I estimated I’d need to spend $250-400/month) for decent coverage. Options are made available based on your zip code.
– Called short-listed companies to speak to a human about the fine print (see sample questions below).
– Selected a comprehensive medical plan.
– Added on an optional dental plan.
– Confirmed and enrolled.
– Waited 72 hours and then called my new insurance company with the confirmation code and paid the annual amount up front (ouch). Monthly payments are also available, however.
– Felt blessed that I could afford my own care and that the process was over. Felt sad that unlike my colleagues from Europe, my country chooses not use our tax dollars to provide universal healthcare for its citizens and subjects us to an expensive and fragmented healthcare system. Felt concerned for other Americans who cannot afford those several thousand dollars I just paid. Felt relieved I had savings from previous full-time work to support me now as a freelancer.

 

Questions I’m glad I thought to ask to each provider I called prior to enrollment:

 

– My primary care physician is X, and I’m loyal to her. Is she in your network?
– Is your network county, state, or nationwide? (Independent Health, for example, only covered my county in New York state and out-of-network stipulations were outrageous.)
– Is this a co-insurance plan? (For example, if you don’t clarify this point, you could wind up paying 50% on care even after you met the deductible, up to the maximum out-of-pocket number.)
– Are all routine visits covered?
– What are the typical co-pays on procedure X that I usually have done once a year?
– Are pharmaceuticals covered? What’s the co-pay on brand name vs. generics? Is the co-pay only available after I reach my deductible? (On some Bronze plans, drugs weren’t covered at all and I would have had to meet a $4,000 deductible before a co-pay would be available. On Silver, co-pay was immediately available and made a compelling case for me to upgrade since drugs can be very expensive.)
– I use drug X. Is it covered? What’s the co-pay?
– What happens if I am in another state and get into a car accident and need to go to the emergency room and have surgery? (Asking this establishes the limits of in-network vs. out-of-network care.)
– If I upgrade one level, what are the additional benefits I might like to know about?

 

Note: Make sure you understand what “deductible” and “maximum out-of-pocket” mean before you call anyone. In plain terms, the deductible is the amount you’d have to pay annually before your insurance steps in and starts covering anything beyond routine care. A maximum out-of-pocket means you’d only have to pay up to that number for all those “beyond-routine” procedures. For example, if your deductible is $3,000 and maximum out-of-pocket is $6,000, that means if you suddenly got sick, you’d have to pay $3,000 towards your own care before the insurance company starts helping. (That’s a lot!) Then you might still pay co-pays after the $3,000, but the limit on all those expenses is $6,000 total. I’m not an expert, so there’s probably some ugly loopholes insurance companies find depending on individual situations, but this is in theory how it’s supposed to work. How I see it, the higher the deductible and maximums, the more screwed I would be if something unexpected happens. Look for lower numbers in both of those categories. You don’t want to spend a grand if you get the flu because you’re paying out-of-pocket towards a high deductible for additional visits and pharmacy drugs. (And now you’re speaking Japanese, baby!)

 

In the end, I chose a Silver plan from Fidelis Care for New York with a reasonable deductible, pharmacy co-pays, and emergency out-of-network coverage that wouldn’t bankrupt me. I decided against going with a cheaper plan that would put me in a very bad position if an emergency did occur. I also got to speak with a human being within 2-5 minutes of calling the 1-800 number and was impressed with their customer service. (Please call each company you’re considering and ask them detailed questions before you enroll. You don’t want to get a nasty surprise when you’re sick and need to see the doctor.)

 

That was my experience in a nutshell, and I hope this helps you navigate your own enrollment!

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About Me

About Me

IMG_5937

Hi, I’m Elaina and I want to help you live life on your terms, find a career you love, and travel as often as you want. 

 

I’ve lived, worked, and traveled to more than 60 countries, including some pretty off-the-beaten path destinations like Mongolia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Paraguay. I’ve also lived out of a suitcase as a full-time nomad for the past 4.5 years, ever since leaving my management consulting gig in New York back in 2013 when I landed an international role at a media company that sent me all over the world to work. You can read my full story here

 

What makes my story unique is that I’ve traveled AND built a professional career, working for companies like IBM and Uber over the years. I’ve also spent long stretches of time freelancing and traveling adventurously through South America, Asia, and Africa. I’m currently freelance writing, coaching professionals through career transitions, and working on a few small business ideas while splitting my time between Berlin, the US, and India. 

 

I write about self-development, digital nomadism, charting unconventional life paths, finding REAL jobs overseas, pursuing long-term travel, and living more purposefully in a fast-paced, confusing world. There’s simply no one-size-fits-all model for creating a life you love. I’m not a full-time digital nomad and I’m not a full-time corporate professional: I’ve done things a bit differently and I think it’s feasible for more people to live “off the beaten path” this way. I hope my blog lets you see that it’s both possible and practical.  

 

I started this blog because I want to help you find an exciting career, travel the world, break the norms, and develop yourself both personally and professionally. Read on or get in touch to set up a 1:1 session with me: elaina@lifebefore30.com.

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Currently in: Malawi

 

 

Previously in: Berlin

 

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Five years ago, I changed my whole life in 30 days. I scored the job of my dreams, quit my job in New York, sold everything I owned, moved to West Africa, and never looked back. Read about it here.

 

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Currently in: Malawi

 

 

Previously in: Berlin

 

img_6015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Hot

Recent Posts

Coaching

Coaching

Step into my office!

 

Five years ago, I changed my whole life in 30 days. I scored the job of my dreams, quit my job in New York, sold everything I owned, moved to West Africa, and never looked back. Read about it here.

 

Now I use Office Hours to help my clients do the same.

 

Do you want to travel but are scared to quit your job?

Do you want to find a job overseas but don’t know where to start?

Do you wake up in the morning dreading what’s ahead?

Read more

Like Me on Facebook

Like Me On Facebook

Follow me on twitter

Follow me on twitter

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