For one year, I enjoyed health benefits through my husband’s work. He’d never had a job that offered benefits before, and it was great to cancel the expensive family insurance we had and enjoy the subsidized policy offered by his employer.
His work also offered a number of other benefits, including dental and vision plans, as well as a group life insurance policy that boosted his coverage. All of these benefits provided us with a way inexpensively protect our assets.
Unfortunately, the party came to an untimely end. My husband asked for a divorce earlier this summer. My son remains on my ex’s policy, but I need to once again provide my own health insurance as a self-employed person.
In the past, I simply used an online aggregator to help me find a self-employed health insurance policy. Now, since the PPACA is in effect, the situation is actually a little easier — at least when using the exchange set up by my state (Idaho).
Applying for Self-Employed Health Insurance
First of all, understand that there is an open enrollment period for signing up for new health insurance or changing your coverage. There are some circumstances that allow for special enrollment. Divorce is one those situations, so I was able to apply for my health insurance coverage, even though we aren’t in the current period.
Applying was fairly easy. Idaho’s health exchange has a fairly straightforward site, and I answered questions about my identity, my insurance needs and my current family and work situations. Most state exchanges are set up to provide you an overview of the different marketplace health insurance plans available at different levels.
Because I have few health care needs, I chose a Bronze plan, which comes with a higher deductible but a lower monthly premium. I have to pay more out of pocket, but I am also eligible to keep contributing to my Health Savings Account, which is important to me.
Other plans offer different levels of coverage. You can pay a higher monthly premium and have fewer out of pocket expenses in some cases. You can also find out if you are eligible for a subsidy to help offset some of your costs. I don’t qualify for a subsidy, but my health insurance premiums are tax-deductible as part of my business expenses. It’s one way for me offset some of the cost of coverage, since I’m not subsidized by an employer.
Once my application was complete, I was able to choose from available plans on the marketplace. I chose a Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO plan that cost a little more than some of the other Bronze plans. However, because I travel and visit family all over the country, I wanted a wide provider network. The cost seems worth it.
Everything was handled electronically, from setting up the plan to making my initial payment to activate my coverage. The whole process took about 15 minutes. I don’t know that all health exchanges offer that same speed and ease, but the I was happy with the Idaho exchange when it was time to set up my self-employed health insurance.
In your own business, you will likely need to get health coverage, whether you are your only employee, or whether you hire others as well. One of the challenges of being an entrepreneur is that you need to figure out your own benefits package. Do the research and figure out what works best for you.