I had a terrible case of the flu last week. I’m talking fever, chills, coughing-up-a-lung type of flu. The kind of flu where your entire body hurts and you hate everything — including the world.
After three days of misery, I decided to go to the urgent care. They prescribed some medication to help with the systems so I could ride this thing out, and as soon as I got to the pharmacy I was quickly reminded why I hate health insurance.
To make a long story short, I had to fork over half my monthly premium as a co-payment for the prescription. As in, this damn medicine I needed was going to cost me $125. This is one of those times when I wonder why the hell I pay $250 a month for health insurance in the first place. (yes, I know this is cheap compared to a friend I have in another state paying $600 per month for one person.)
They actually didn’t have the prescription I needed (or course not) so I had to get the generic, which my health insurance didn’t cover. I kissed a $150 goodbye, again wondering why I pay for health insurance in the first place.
It’s no secret that health insurance in the United States is a mess. It’s also no secret that with a new president being inaugurated in January that we really don’t know what’s going to happen in the next few years on our coverage.
However, here’s what we do know as it pertains to health insurance for freelancers.
It’s expensive for the self-employed.
The Affordable Care Act, while a noble and moral effort, is expensive. If you don’t qualify for a subsidy because you make too much money (guilty) then you’re not really getting much bang for your buck. This is evident in the example I already mentioned – and that’s a mild example.
However, I will admit that it did save my behind when I didn’t get health insurance through my last employer and when I was starting a business. So, while I won’t totally knock the gouging self-interest of the insurance companies – because it saved me when I needed it, I still need to be fair: This is way too expensive for the self-employed.
I actually had better health insurance when I was broke than I do now when I’m actually making money.
So if you’re in the same position I’m in, where you simply earn too much money for this to be of any real value, you start wondering about other options.
There are other options.
Americans have been finding ways to swing it with healthcare costs since the beginning.
Here are some of the options available to you as a self-employed individual:
- A health sharing ministry. This is what I’ll be switching to for 2017.
- A high-deductible plan with a Health Savings Account.
- Health insurance through a professional organization.
Are any of these perfect? Nope. They all have their flaws. But right now it’s basically all we’ve got to help out the self-employed.
Always have savings.
While I was annoyed about having to pay $150 for a generic prescription my insurance didn’t cover (not like it was that much more expensive than what it did cover), the truth is I don’t have to worry about it because I have savings precisely for these circumstances.
For some people, $150 can take them out. Believe me, I know. There’s no shortage of emails in my inbox of people telling me they don’t have money for an emergency. However, if you prioritize it, you’ll be able to manage healthcare costs.
Health insurance for the self-employed is not easy, but it is manageable if you learn how to swing it for yourself.
At the end of the day, all you can really do is figure out your own health insurance needs and plan accordingly. But, watch, look carefully, and protect yourself.