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Life & Health Insurance/ACA (Obamacare) question


Mr. Higgins,
My sister lost her job in November of 2012, and is still out of work.  She kept her health insurance via COBRA, but it is rather expensive since she's paying for it out of savings.
Since she has had no income, would she be eligible for government assistance (under the ACA) to help pay for her health insurance through COBRA?


Thank you for the positive ratings.
I re-read my response to your question and had another about a short-term health insurance plan? These plans do not cover pre-existing conditions, only claims within the policy term. They are inexpensive, yet offer very good coverage for the money. If your sister has no pre-existing conditions to speak of, this may be excellent option to lower her premium.
I Googled, "Alabama short term health insurance," and see that all the big players in the industry offer this type of coverage in your state... Blue Cross, United Health, Humana, etc.

Thank you.

Mike Higgins

Hello David:

The federal financial assistance aspect of the PPACA, (ACA,) (Obamacare,) does not start until 1/1/14. At that time your sister may possibly qualify for financial assistance in purchasing a private health plan offered through the health insurance exchange being set up in your state. Or, depending on her financial status at that time, may be enrolled in Medicaid. Here is an online calculator that may be helpful in determining whether your sister will qualify for assistance, and how much, This is a calculator from the Kaiser Foundation, not from a government entity.

For the time being, has your sister looked into a private individual plan, as opposed to her current COBRA plan. COBRA plans, by law, can only charge up to 2% above what her past employer was paying for coverage on her behalf. What she is paying now is essentially what group health insurance costs an employer per employee in Alabama. Individual plans are usually much less expensive, but are typically medically underwritten and do not cover maternity. Underwriting rules change dramatically on 1/1/14, (basically, insurers can't underwrite and deny coverage at that time,# but this change will increase rates substantially.

I am not familiar with Alabama insurance law, #or licensed,) so obviously my comments are of a general nature. That said, I recommend that she apply for a private plan with her local Blue Cross,, or other reputable carrier, and go from there. I'll be happy to peruse the local plans online and make suggestions, but again, I can only make recommendations...I cannot sell or enroll your sister in any coverage, I am not licensed in Alabama.

I also recommend that you visit the Alabama Department of Insurance website,, or call them, to see if there is any type of assistance available for your sister.

Please feel free to call or write if I can help in any way,

Mike Higgins
Licensed in AZ. and RI.

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Michael Higgins


All questions pertaining to health insurance, whether group, individual/family, student, child-only, COBRA, HIPAA, Portability, dental. No expert knowledge in areas such as life insurance, disability, workman's compensation, auto, etc.


34 years as owner of health insurance agency, primarily dealing with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona.

College, Business Administration.

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