Previous generations had access to healthcare insurance through their employers, who were often big corporations or government employers. A pension often came with the job, as well, giving a worker incentive to stay in the same job for decades. The job offered a security that couldn’t be found by opening a small store or diner.
Health Insurance MarketplaceThe government’s Health Insurance Marketplace is the first place self-employed professionals should start. Here is where you’re most likely to find good coverage at an affordable price.
The biggest problem, though, is that you’ll have to qualify to be eligible. Freelancers and self-employed workers can apply for coverage, but savings is based on your estimated income. If you’re pulling in too much money with your business, you may not get the affordability you would get from other sources.
Trade Organizations and GroupsThe biggest problem for sole proprietors is that you don’t qualify for the group discounts a large business gets. One way to get that group benefit is through joining with others in your industry to sign up for medical coverage.
Chances are, you already belong to a trade organization specific to what you do for a living. Check first to see if health insurance is provided to members as a benefit of membership. Don’t stop with that option. Compare it to what you’re being offered elsewhere to make sure it’s the best deal.
If you can’t find coverage through one of your trade organizations, consider other memberships you hold. If you’re over 50, AARP has group health plans, or you may find a good option through your alumni association or your church. New Yorkers can take advantage of health plans offered through The Freelancers Union, which promises rates below market standard.
Individual CoverageDon’t be afraid to contact health insurers directly for coverage. In fact, even if you’re offered a plan with one of the above options, you should price it against what you can get on your own. Try major insurance companies such as Aetna, Cigna, and Blue Cross, and compare their offerings against each other. Most insurers have rate calculators on their websites to make it easy to calculate rates.
If the rates seem too high, consider a higher deductible, especially if you have few health problems.
Other OptionsIf you’re married, your spouse’s job may provide health insurance for the entire family. This will, of course, be the best option you’ll find. Some part-time jobs provide reasonable insurance for families, so your spouse may be able to take a job to cover the insurance for the family, making the low pay worth it.
For those who exit a job with benefits to take on freelance work, COBRA is an option. While it isn’t expensive, it extends your existing coverage for a period of time, allowing you to make other arrangements. If you choose COBRA as your option, be sure you price it against other types of coverage, especially the Health Insurance Marketplace.
As important as health insurance is, it isn’t an option for most business owners and freelancers. By knowing your options and pricing each of them, you’ll be able to find an affordable plan for you and your family, allowing you to focus on bringing in the money to pay the monthly premiums each month.
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