According to PBS, 44 million Americans still don’t have health insurance. But that makes sense considering how health insurance is usually reliant on traditional employment.
But the cost of medical care is obscene. A broken arm can cost over $2,500. Having a baby in a hospital costs $30,000 for a normal birth. A single night in the hospital can cost over $2,000, not including any actual medical work.
What about cancer? What about a car wreck? A heart attack?
To defend against medical costs, freelancers have to find their own health insurance.
Below we cover seven different options for health insurance for freelancers.
1. Affordable Care Act
The Affordable Care Act runs on four different tiers. The bronze plan covers 60% of expenses, while the platinum plan covers up to 90%. Your premium depends on your age, location, income, and family size.
But no matter what tier you pick, the ACA covers the following 10 essential health benefits:
- Preventive and wellness visits, including chronic disease management
- Maternity and newborn care
- Mental and behavioral health treatment
- Services and devices to help people with injuries, disabilities, or chronic conditions
- Lab tests
- Pediatric care
- Prescription drugs
- Outpatient care
- Emergency room services
These 10 essential benefits are part of the legislature that went into effect in 2010. All new insurance plans must cover these benefits.
While the ACA covers a lot of health expenses, it can run high premiums, based on your income.
There are a lot of ins and outs when it comes to applying for the ACA. Make sure you enroll during open enrollment periods and declare your income. Depending on what you declare, you may be eligible for more subsidies. This information is cross-referenced with your taxes at the end of the year. You will be responsible for any differences. You can learn more here.
Qualification for Medicaid depends on these factors: income, household size, disability, family status. Other factors vary from state to state. But if you qualify, Medicaid might be the most affordable option.
To qualify for Medicaid your income needs to be below 133% of the federal poverty level.
You qualify for Medicaid if your income is below:
- $16,611 for a household of 1
- $22,490 for a household of 2
- $34,247 for a household of 4
Medicaid covers expenses like nursing home care, home health care, and long-term care. Medicaid doesn’t cover prescription drugs unless you elect to add it to your plan.
3. Private Insurers
Private insurers are another option for health insurance for freelancers. United Healthcare and Anthem made our list of top 10 health insurance companies. Plans, premiums, deductibles, and coverage vary from provider to provider. Here’s what you should consider when comparing plans.
Most private insurers don’t qualify for tax credits or other income-based savings. If you don’t qualify for federal subsidies, consider a private insurance company.
On that note, most subsidies fizzle out at over 400% of the poverty level. That’s an annual income of about $49,960 for a household of one.
4. Partner’s Plan
See if your partner’s employer-provided health insurance coverage expands to you.
Health insurance costs are regularly discounted when bought in bulk. This is why getting health insurance through an employer is usually the best deal. So if you can piggy-back on your partner’s health plan, it’s often the best deal for your dollar.
COBRA stands for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. If you had a health insurance plan at your last job and had at least 20 coworkers, you could be eligible for COBRA.
So if you cut back on hours, or quit your job, you could keep your current plan for up to 36 months.
But COBRA might not be your best option. Your previous employer likely covered a huge part of your insurance premium. You would now be responsible for the entire premium. In other words, you may have been paying $83 a month through your employer. But now you’re likely to be responsible for a full $500 premium.
6. Special Interest Groups
Various special interest groups and unions have popped up. Several of these groups offer specified health insurance options for their members.
The Freelancers Union
The Freelancers Union is a non-profit organization founded in 1995. And it’s membership is free. On the home page, they offer insurance plans they’ve “handpicked for freelancers.”
The National Association for Self-Employed
The National Association for Self-Employed says they’re “The Nation’s Leading Resource for Entrepreneurs.” Annual membership is $120, or $45 monthly for a gold plan. They do offer access to health insurance options.
7. Health Cost Sharing
Health Cost Sharing has become an alternative solution to outrageous insurance premiums. There’s a catch though – you have to be healthy in the first place to join. Even still, over 1 million people have signed up for this option.
Most often, these are faith-based programs. Members of the group all pay an agreed upon amount every month (like a premium). Officials then distribute the premiums to individuals in need to cover their expenses.
This option has a lot of appeal. One writer shared his experience. He explained a family could join a Health Cost Sharing for $300 to $500 a month. The typical subsidized cost of a healthcare premium for a family of four is closer to $1500 a month.
Insurance for Freelancers isn’t Limitless, but There Are Plenty of Options
There are plenty of options to find health insurance for freelancers. We picked the options above to give you an idea of which form of insurance might be best for you. Use these suggestions as a launching point to start your research.
Want to know how to find an insurance agent you can trust?