Working for yourself or freelancing is appealing for many reasons. There is flexibility, creative freedom and the ability to work from home. But there are also drawbacks that many people discover only after they have left the traditional workforce in favor of working as an independent contractor.
One of the most significant concerns for independent contractors is health insurance. Getting health insurance as an independent contractor can be more difficult than if you are signing up for coverage under an employer’s plan. But, that doesn’t mean that good health insurance is impossible.
Put together by a health insurance agency in Lawton, OK, here are some health insurance tips for self employed individuals that can help you find the right coverage at a price you can afford.
Health Insurance Tips for Self Employed Individuals
If you are self employed and you need to find health insurance, here are some tips to help you avoid the obstacles and find coverage that works for you.
Check out the Affordable Care Act (ACA)
The ACA was passed in 2010 as a means of helping more Americans get health insurance. With the ACA came the development of insurance marketplaces or exchanges where individuals and families can find affordable healthcare insurance options. Not only are ACA plans designed to be affordable, but they are also more inclusive. There is no penalty for pre-existing conditions, and all plans are required to cover:
- Emergency care
- Outpatient care
- Preventative care
- Pediatric care (including oral and vision care)
- Birth control
- Pregnancy, maternity, and newborn care
- Breastfeeding care
- Mental health services
- Prescription drugs
- Lab services
Plans under the ACA are divided into four categories – bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. Bronze plans are the least expensive, and platinum plans are the most expensive. Of course, the more expensive the plan is, the better coverage you have.
If the plan you want seems too expensive, you may qualify for a subsidy to help pay for your insurance costs. Many Americans qualify for tax credits that help offset the cost of monthly premiums. In many cases, the tax credits help significantly reduce monthly premiums or eliminate them completely.
See if You Qualify for Medicaid
Medicaid is another option that many independent contractors qualify for. The ACA expanded Medicaid coverage, making it available to even more people. If you make less than 138% of the federal poverty limit, you may qualify for Medicaid. You need to check the guidelines in your state.
See if You Qualify for COBRA Coverage
If you are leaving your job to become an independent contractor and you had insurance through your employer, you may qualify for COBRA continuation health coverage. There are laws that require an employer to extend your health benefits at a group rate for up to 18 months if you qualify.
Explore Trade Group or Professional Group Coverage
Most people don’t realize that trade associations and professional organizations sometimes offer assistance with health insurance. For example, the Freelancers Union offers coverage options under a group plan. Other industry-related groups may offer similar coverage for members.
Talk to an Independent Insurance Agent
If you are newly self employed and you are looking into health insurance options, one of the best things you can do is talk to an independent insurance agent. Unlike insurance companies or exchanges, an independent agent works for you. Their goal is to help you identify your health insurance needs and budget, and find options that fit both.
Independent agents can often find discounts or tax credits that you wouldn’t find elsewhere. Working with an agent can also reduce your stress as you search for the right plan.