Healthcare Options for Freelancers
One of the biggest financial realities that you’ll have to face when becoming a freelancer is having to locate and pay for your own health insurance. Not only does having health insurance benefit your overall health since you can address any medical concerns before they become serious, it’s also required under the Affordable Care Act. If you don’t have health insurance, you may face a penalty that is either 2% of your yearly household income or $325 per person for the year.
To avoid this penalty, and make sure that you remain in tip-top shape, here are the best healthcare options for freelancers.
Your State’s Health Insurance Marketplace
Launched in 2013 as part of the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Healthcare.gov is a health insurance exchange website that is run by the federal government. It provides a database that allows freelancers to find affordable health insurance coverage based on factors like age, location, income, and the size of your household.
Once completing an application you may be able to receive premium tax credits or deductions, free or low-cost coverage, and select the best plan for you and your family.
Each state also has their own exchanges that operate like Healthcare.gov in that you can purchase the right health insurance plan, which includes low-cost or free plans. Currently fifteen states and the District of Columbia operate their own healthcare exchanges. If your state isn’t listed, then you can enroll through Healthcare.gov.
If you need more assistance, you can visit LocalHelp.Healthcare.gov to meet with someone in your area to help you apply and enroll.
Just remember, that you can only apply during the specified open enrollment period.
Private Insurance Companies
If you don’t qualify for free or low-cost insurance through the government, or your current physician doesn’t accept the insurance provided, you can purchase plan directly through a private insurance company. If you home or auto insurance company offers health insurance, you may be able to save money by bundling these plans together. If not, companies like Humana and Cigna have plans for the self-employed. You can also search for plans through eHealth.
If you opt to use a private insurance company, make sure that policy at least meets the coverage offered by Healthcare.gov so that it will fulfill your health insurance requirement.
If you’re stuck with a high-deductible, set-up a Health Savings Account which can help pay or reimburse certain medical expenses.
Some local business and professional organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce, offer members insurance. To find out of these organizations provide health insurance coverage contact them immediately.
There are some national organizations, such as the American Society of Journalists and Authors, National Association for the Self-Employed, and the Freelancers Union that provide health insurance for freelancers.
Hire an Employee
Once you hire an employee you’ll be eligible to purchase health insurance through Healthcare.gov or your state’s small business exchange. The Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace doesn’t have an enrollment period so you can apply whenever you’re eligible.
Your Spouse’s Plan
If you have a spouse who works for an employer then offers health insurance then jump onto their plan. The addition to the policy may raise the cost of the premium, it could be cheaper than having multiple policies. Before committing to this, compare the cost of your spouse’s plan and the plans that you’ve located since a plan through the Freelancers Union, for example, could be more affordable.
Pay Cash or Find a Flat Fee Doctor
Until you have secure a health insurance plan, you can pay cash if you have to visit a doctor or specialist. The problem with this is that it can get pricey and you may need a referral. However, there is an emerging marketplace with doctors who charge a monthly fee, usually between $80 to $100, for essentially unlimited visits. The downside? This doesn’t cover any hospital, pharmacy, or other medical costs.