Calling all freelancers out there!… Have you considered health insurance?
Being self-employed can rid us of many unnecessary headaches. If you work from home, you don’t have to worry about your commute, parking or being on time. There’s also the benefit of picking your own clients and arranging your working schedule as you see fit.
Those are just some of the reasons more and more Americans chose to do freelancing nowadays. Upwork, one of the most popular platforms for freelancers, together with The Freelancers Union, commissioned a study that showed 57 million people have taken the route of self-employment. That’s a staggering 35% of the US workforce!
But being an independent contractor doesn’t mean you’ll be free of worries. Check out our article on tips for becoming a freelancer to get some general ideas of what steps to take. Now, however, we’re going to be focusing on health insurance.
Do your research well before November 15th when the deadline for enrollment strikes. That’s also when most people hurry to pick their options and being well prepared could help you avoid the rush.
That being said, any major changes in your life such as losing your job-related coverage, marriage or adoption will open the door for enrollment if you’ve missed it.
Also, you don’t have to go with just one option of health insurance. The end goal is to have a safety blanket while also saving up money. That could very well mean applying to different programs.
1. Partner’s Plan
If your partner is employed you could look into coverage on health insurance for yourself through their plan. In some cases, this might consist of paying for a lower premium, but this isn’t a given.
Remember, this might be the most obvious and immediate action but comparing costs might save you a lot of money. Check to make sure the insurance is right for you.
Keep in mind that to qualify, you don’t have to be married. Domestic partners can benefit off each other’s insurance, provided they fill a few forms and declare the following:
They are not married to another individual, nor are they engaged in a domestic partnership with another person
- They are known to be in a relationship to the public
- They share a permanent residence
- They are both financially responsible for living expenses
- If you fit the bill you could enjoy their coverage. Make sure you’re ready with the paperwork and you’re good to go.
2. Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)
The introduction of the ACA has revolutionized health insurance for many Americans. Are you low income, at risk for a major disease or do you have a pre-existing condition? If you’ve checked any of those three boxes, time to look into Obamacare and see what you could benefit from.
Careful, though! You can enroll from November to mid-December but insurance doesn’t kick in until a year later, meaning you’ll be exposed for a while.
Still, if you’re willing to shoulder the risk, it’s always a good idea to look into this option. It has provided safety to a lot of Americans that would have otherwise struggled with less satisfactory options.
3. Healthcare as a Business
If you’ve read our article on things to do when becoming self-employed, then you know you should form an LLC. This can not only offer you liability protection but it also opens the door to healthcare.
Every state has different rates on health insurance so consider checking yearly. You never know when you could switch from one plan to another. Keep in mind that some these offers are only available if your company has two or more workers.
This can definitely put a damper in your plans, but shop around and see if there are any options available for you. The Small Business Health Operations Program is a federal program you should check out first.
4. Professional Associations
If the above-mentioned option isn’t the right fit, then you should consider group insurance plans. First, you must decide if you want to become a member of an independent worker association. As the name implies, you can’t apply if your profession doesn’t have an association.
You could save up a lot of money with their health insurance, but keep in mind that memberships often imply fees. Make sure you balance the pros and cons to see if you can make the most out of such a partnership.
In any case, it’s worth looking into for health insurance alone, but networking is yet another advantage that they offer.
5. Freelancers Union
If you haven’t already, we encourage you to check out the Freelancers Union. It’s a one-stop-shop for many of your self-employment needs.
If you’ve searched for health insurance through them before and were unlucky, check again. They’ve stretched their reach on a national scale, so definitely give it another try.
Their deadline is December 15th, so get all your paperwork in order before that. Additionally, you can also shop for dental insurance through them. Once you’re covered and feel safe, you’re going to want to show off that wonderful smile as often as possible!
6. COBRA Coverage
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act was introduced in the US in 1986. It has since offered many Americans easy and affordable health insurance options.
Basically, if you to leave your regular job, the program allows you to keep using your current health insurance.
This is exceptionally beneficial in case your current plan is favorable to you. But since your employers have been paying part of your premiums, these will now transfer to your list of responsibilities.
COBRA Coverage may also include a special enrollment period, so keep that in mind!
7. Health Savings Accounts
Health Savings accounts are blessings not a lot of people are aware of. We’re so used to searching for the most affordable plans that we forget we don’t have to break the bank for more expensive ones.
To qualify for this type of health insurance plan you need to have a high-deductible health plan. HSAs allow you to store and maintain tax-sheltered money which you can use to pay for expenses your insurance won’t cover.
You’ll be able to store your balance for as long as you wish, any unused balance will roll over into the coming years.
As an added bonus, when you turn 65 you’ll also be able to withdraw money for non-health-related expenses. HSAs offer great flexibility in the long run!
8. Faith-based Healthcare
This isn’t an actual health insurance policy but rather a low-cost alternative. Some religious denominations in your area might offer this. It comes with a degree of risk as members will be pooling money on a monthly basis.
The fund can then be used for health-related issues. That means that you’re not guaranteed to receive help and will be competing with others for the money.
On the other hand, this option offers a lot of Americans the option to help their communities. A good starting point is the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries. Or, speak to your local religious group directly.
9. Temporary Coverage
Last but not least, there’s also the option of short term insurance. This is viable if you need a safety blanket but have missed the enrollment period for other plans. That’s why it’s so important to stay organized and on top of things before winter rolls around.
Keep in mind, these plans are only intended for short periods of time and only cover emergencies. Why then? Well, if you earn too much to use programs like Medicaid but still want the security of health insurance, this could be beneficial.
Be careful, though! Temporary coverage plans are not ACA compliant!
The bottom line is that you needn’t stress about health insurance quite as much as you’re lead to believe. As you can see, there are more than enough options to pick from. If you’ve already settled on a plan but think it’s not quite right for you, you should always be aware of alternatives.
If you’re still unsure, a health insurance broker will discuss your needs and figure out a good plan for you. They could even help you decide between some of the mentioned solutions.
Every one of our points comes with pros and cons but we’re sure you’ll make the right decision when it comes to health insurance. If you have any more ideas or suggestions let us know in the comments down below.
As you can see, we like to explore as many options as possible. If you’ve recently switched to or from one of our examples we’d also love to hear why!
Looking for some more helpful tips? We’ve got you covered! Check out: Don’t Pay for These 26 Things! Here’s How to Get Them for Free!