According to the US Department of Labor Statistics, 10 million workers in the country are self-employed. Being self-employed can be liberating, but it also means that you are your own HR department too. One of the biggest challenges is finding affordable insurance options.
With a traditional employer, you had a limited choice of health insurance options and you might have had access to a team that could help you understand the paperwork and process. Now that you are alone, you must navigate this maze on your own too.
It won’t be easy, but we can help you ease the burden a little by helping you understand your options.
|Online insurance marketplaces||Lots of options to choose from can provide personalized help in finding the right plan||Sellers may be biased and offer a plan that doesn’t suit you|
|Marketplaces for Affordable Care||Might qualify for grants to help cut costs. Can find out if you are eligible for Medicaid / CHIP / other low cost insurance options. Guaranteed coverage for the essentials||You can only register at certain times of the year or after certain events. The cost can be high if you don’t qualify for grants|
|Short term health insurance||Inexpensive||Doesn’t cover the essentials. Doesn’t cover pregnancy. Does not cover the already existing conditions. May not be available in your state|
|Through a spouse or domestic partner||Inexpensive||Not available to individuals. You may have to pay more than your spouse / partner for coverage|
|Freelancers Union or other associations||Might be able to get lower rates through a group plan||There may not be as many options available|
1. Online insurance marketplaces
Insurance marketplaces (also known as “brokers”) are for-profit companies that sell Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange plans and non-ACA plans. It gives you more information and assistance than going through the ACA exchange on your own. The use of an online marketplace is free. Instead, insurance companies get a blow when they sell you an insurance plan.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, that setback can be as high as $ 20 per month depending on where you live. This is no fool switch so brokers may present you with biased estimates. When working with a broker, it is important to ask them if they offer you all of the options available on the Affordable Care Act marketplace. Unless, Why Not.
PolicyGenius is one of the largest and easiest to use online insurance markets. In addition to health insurance, you will also receive offers for life insurance, homeowner insurance, auto insurance, tenant insurance, disability insurance and more.
To find out more about the insurance plans that are right for you, select the type of insurance you are looking for on the home page. Then enter your zip code, county, and email address to view the list of plans and providers available to you.
eHealth offers health insurance from over 180 companies. It is also heavily Medicare-focused and can help you figure out your options for this unique health insurance program. For an instant list of insurance options, select the type of insurance you’re shopping for and enter your zip code.
Speaking to a live agent can help you understand which plan is right for you. However, if you’re not ready to take this step, HealthMarkets offers a quick survey instead. Once you have completed the survey, your responses will be compared to multiple plan coverage and a FitScore will be generated for each plan tailored to your needs. With FitScore, you can easily see which insurance plan best suits your needs.
2. Marketplace for affordable care
The Affordable Care Act is the largest government initiative in recent years attempting to study how people – including freelancers – can get affordable health insurance. The ACA has created a central health insurance market that is operated either by your state government or by the federal government, depending on where you live.
Your options in the ACA marketplace will be rated on a number of metal levels:
|Planning level||2020 average premium1||Insurance company pays …||You pay…|
There are two things to keep in mind: First, costs vary widely across the country. For example, the cheapest Bronze plan for one person costs an average of $ 219 in Rhode Island and $ 552 in West Virginia.
Second, these numbers might shock you. For example, if you have a family of four in West Virginia, the $ 2,208 per month health insurance payment seems like this opposite of affordable, and it is.
However, one of the best features of the ACA is that depending on your income, you may qualify for subsidies that will help bring your real costs down to affordable levels. You will also be notified when you qualify for Medicaid, CHIP, or other free or low-cost health insurance options.
To sign up for an ACA plan, you’ll need to wait until the open sign-up period for plans that start in the New Year from November to December. If you have a “Qualifying Life Event” (see below), you can also register at any time:
- If you lose your existing coverage (e.g. if you’ve lost your job)
- When you have a change in your household (e.g. getting married)
- When you drag to a new area
- When you have a big change in income, join a tribe or become a U.S. citizen, quit AmeriCorps service, or exit jail or jail
3. Short term health insurance
Short-term health insurance plans are different from ACA plans because they are not as strictly regulated. For example, they generally don’t cover preventive health care such as annual doctor visits, prenatal care, or prescription medication.
They also come with high deductibles and carriers set dollar limits on withdrawals. This type of plan is best as a temporary protection measure if you get really sick or have a serious accident while you’re between better insurance plans.
In fact, these plans are so consumer-unfriendly that they are banned or heavily regulated in many states. Short-term health insurance policies typically account for around 20% of the cost of a low-level bronze plan, according to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation. But remember: if you need to see a doctor, it may cost a lot more than if you bought a full health insurance plan from the ACA marketplace or other source.
4. Through a spouse or domestic partner
Not everyone has this option, but in general, doing so is the best way to get coverage as a freelancer. Employers can offer affordable health insurance to their employees, and often to their employees’ family members.
You may have to pay an additional fee to be included on your spouse or partner’s plan. But it’s usually much cheaper than finding your own plan through a broker or the ACA exchange with no subsidy. If you are not married but are in a partnership, you can check with your partner’s employer about what is required to qualify as a “domestic partner” for insurance purposes.
5. Freelancers Union or Associations
Professional associations often receive similar discounts that employers receive. For example, the Freelancers Union (an unofficial union) offers options for health insurance, vision insurance, and dental insurance for freelancers.
As with so many other insurance-related plans, the real cost of these plans will depend on where you live. The Freelancers Union does not charge membership fees, but other organizations do. In this case, you need to weigh the cost of a membership fee against the potential savings you can make by taking out health insurance through an association.
Find the best health insurance for you
The most important factor that you need to consider when shopping for health insurance plans as a freelancer are your needs.
For example, if you are trying to raise a family, you should avoid short-term health insurance that does not cover pregnancy costs. If you have a chronic illness and need frequent medical care, choosing “cheap” bronze health insurance can cost more in the long run, as these plans offer minimal coverage.
Knowing what type of health services you will need in the year ahead is not always easy. Some events, like a major car accident, cannot be planned. However, if you focus on the type of health services you need today and compare multiple health insurance plans from different providers, you will find that there are many health insurance options for freelancers.