Having adequate health care options is important for everyone, especially for people who work as caregivers. As a nanny, you work with and around children in their home. You also probably come in contact with a child’s friends, other family members, and different public environments with many kids like schools, playgrounds, museums, or libraries. That means germs — a lot of them.
Of course, this is just one reason why it’s very important for nannies to have health insurance coverage. Having affordable healthcare options means a sick nanny can visit a doctor and get medication in order to feel better, without the stress of worrying about overly expensive costs. It also means you stay healthy, get the care you need for other medical concerns, and that you’re covered in the event of an accident or major illness.
Unfortunately, finding healthcare as a nanny in Chicago can be confusing, but we’re here to help with a list of options we’ve put together.
Ask your employer about coverage
Families don’t usually have a backup nanny in place, so if their primary child care provider gets sick, what are they to do? Employer-provided health insurance can give both nanny and parents peace of mind. With preventative care and access to doctors and clinics when sick, nannies are less likely to miss work… or get their charges sick.
If you think your employer might be open to providing or contributing to a health insurance plan, it’s a good idea to ask. They may be able to establish a policy through healthcare.gov, which may come with a tax credit based on average wages. Like many other states, Illinois uses healthcare.gov to apply for and enroll in health coverage. Other states have their own insurance marketplace that’s used instead of the federal marketplace.
Luckily, more and more families are offering healthcare coverage to their nannies because affordable options have become scarce. If your current employer is not willing or able to consider coverage, there are other options available to you.
Seek a stipend or reimbursements
A health insurance stipend is one way your employer may help you cover your health costs. A stipend is simply an extra flat amount given to you in each paycheck. It’s intended to be used for health insurance and is also treated as taxable income.
Another option is tax-free reimbursements. Your employer might help you pay for any medical expenses through a Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangement (QSEHRA), which isn’t subject to taxes — an advantage over a stipend.
Find coverage under the Affordable Care Act
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), nannies in Chicago can explore their coverage options through Illinois’ Medicaid program or through the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace. You can compare different health insurance plans side-by-side on the Marketplace.
Since everyone’s needs vary, look at your options on Get Covered Illinois to find the right coverage for you. You can also find some great resources about ACA, understanding the Marketplace, and applying on the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services website.
Keep in mind that open enrollment, which usually occurs twice a year, may be the best time to seek insurance. Open enrollment for 2020 coverage in Illinois (and most states) runs at the end of the year (in 2019, the open enrollment dates are November 1 to December 15, 2019). However, you can enroll anytime if you have a “qualifying event,” such as losing health coverage, moving, getting married or divorced, having a baby, or adopting a child.
Other things to consider
Lastly, don’t forget about other ways you may qualify for health care coverage. If you’re married and your spouse has coverage under their own plan at work, they may have an option to add you to their policy. Sometimes adding a spouse to an existing policy can be less expensive than purchasing an individual one. Even if it’s not, sometimes it’s worth avoiding the hassle of finding a new nanny job that provides coverage or setting up your own policy.
If you’re under 26 years old, you may also still be covered by your parent’s plan. Under ACA, parents can keep children on their health insurance policy until they turn 26 years old. That’s the case even if you’re married, living separately, or not financially dependent on your parents.
Find the right benefits with the right agency
Figuring out stuff like this on your own is part of being a nanny. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from getting support from others every now and then. Chicago Collegiate Nannies not only offers placement services for members of our agency; we also provide continuous, individualized support throughout the entire process. Learn more about joining our agency for free!