10 Viable Health Insurance Options for Freelancers
The freelance life offers many benefits. No early morning commute, freedom to set your own schedule, project choice and so much more. However, one of the most important details in our lives, health insurance, doesn’t appear in most freelance contracts, so we must figure that part out on our own.
Here are ten viable ways to obtain health insurance when you live the freelance lifestyle.
Affordable Care Act (ACA)
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) – better known as Obamacare – allows people to obtain health insurance through state marketplaces. Open Enrollment takes place each year from early November to mid-December. Coverage for plans purchased during that window begins January 1st of the next year. If you miss Open Enrollment, you may still get coverage if you’ve had specific life changes.
You can also get coverage if you qualify for Medicaid.
Spouse or Domestic Partner’s Plan
If your spouse or domestic partner has an insurance policy through their employer, you can likely be added to it. For some policies, you can be added for free and others you’ll have to pay a part of the monthly premium. Either way, it’s an easy way to have health insurance as a freelancer.
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) included a rule that if you leave a position where you had healthcare, the company must offer the right to extend your coverage, typically up to 18 months. You have to make the premium payments yourself, but this is a good option if you are planning to leave your position and need time to figure out your next health insurance move.
The Freelancers Union is another great place to look for health insurance options specifically for Freelancers. The site links to several plans and helps you find Travel Insurance, PPO plans, and coverage for people over the age of 65 in the form of Medicare Advantage plans for Freelancers.
Are you already a member of an organization that offers health insurance? Perhaps your part of a union, an alumni association or another professional organization? Sometimes, the local chamber of commerce offers coverage to its members.
Here are a few organizations that offer health insurance to their members:
AARP – offers several options for Medicare supplemental plans.
Alliance for Affordable Services – known for helping small businesses and consumers save, they offer several healthcare benefits to members.
Costco Health Insurance Marketplace – helps their members sort through the options to make the best decision for their personal healthcare needs.
Small Business Service Bureau – helps you decipher the complex world of health insurance by walking you through the steps and choices.
The Alumni Insurance Program – offering health insurance plans to alumni of several schools, take a look at this to see if your college or university participates.
High Deductible Health Plans (Private Insurance)
Depending on your income level, you may not qualify for subsidies under the Affordable Care Act and may have to purchase an individual or family insurance plan. You can find High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) that have affordable monthly premiums, but the deductibles can be outrageous – think in the $10,000 and higher – range. These plans do cover preventive care, but little else before the deductible is met.
The silver lining with HDHPs comes in the form of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).
Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)
Many HDHPs can be paired with a Health Savings Account (HSA). An HSA allows you to save pre-tax money and use it to pay for qualified out-of-pocket medical expenses. Wondering how this helps? Basically, the money you contribute to the HSA is subtracted from your tax bill at the end of the year. Plus, you get to use the money before tax is taken out, making your money work harder for you.
Faith-Based Healthcare Options
Faith-based healthcare is another option to consider. Most faith-based options are cost-sharing plans. Each person contributes a monthly premium, usually based on what you can afford. The money members donate is used to pay healthcare costs. As this is not typical health insurance, there is no guarantee your costs will be covered. While the monthly contributions are cost-effective, you have to make sure the risk is worth it. If your interested, you can check out The Alliance of Healthcare Sharing Ministries to see if this would be a good option for you.
Short-Term Health Plans
There are short term health plans available, which are good options if you missed Open Enrollment or are at an in-between time in your life. However, these plans do not offer the same coverage as ACA plans, so be sure to know all the fine details before you sign up.
Flat Fee/Membership/Concierge Medicine
If you go to the doctor a lot, you may look into finding a physician who offers a flat fee, membership, or practices concierge medicine. Although every doctor’s set up will differ, basically, you pay a fixed fee for services, so you’ll know exactly what to expect when you step in the office. These fees don’t include hospital, pharmacy or any other medical expenses, but could be very beneficial for the doctor visit portion of your costs.
There are many ways to cover yourself and your family as a freelancer. Be sure to read the fine print on whatever option you choose, to ensure you’re getting the best coverage for you.
Disclaimer: the content presented in this article are for informational purposes only, and is not, and must not be considered tax, investment, legal, accounting or financial planning advice, nor a recommendation as to a specific course of action. Investors should consult all available information, including fund prospectuses, and consult with appropriate tax, investment, accounting, legal, and accounting professionals, as appropriate, before making any investment or utilizing any financial planning strategy.