Working for yourself as an entrepreneur or freelancer has its perks. You’re your own boss, and you don’t have to worry about anyone breathing down your neck all day to get things done. Your schedule is up to you and you alone, but there are some downfalls not many people realize when they start their own business. The biggest luxury of a traditional job with a company is that you have a set of insurance plans and benefits offered to you. If you’re working independently, you’re on your own for health care.
Finding health insurance yourself is possible, but it’s not as straightforward as insurance through an employer. You’ll need to make choices about the type of coverage you need, and you’ll have to decide just how much you’re willing to spend for that coverage. As of 2015, one in three workers was choosing to earn their income independently. This number is only rising, and with it comes additional opportunities for entrepreneurs to get the coverage they need.
Understanding the Options
When deciding your insurance plan, you’ll need to be prepared to do some research. There are both government-backed programs and private insurance options, but these each come with their own limitations. One thing that’s for certain is that you do need coverage. Even if you’re young and in good health, accidents happen. You don’t want to be caught unprepared if a medical emergency strikes.
It’s also in your best interest to purchase insurance yourself if you want to avoid government penalties. As of 2018, not having insurance will cost a penalty of $695 per adult. That’s a big price to pay for not having coverage, so take this process seriously. Let’s talk about your options for health insurance as an entrepreneur or freelancer.
Through a Family Member
The easiest way to get insurance as someone who’s self-employed is through a family member. If your spouse currently receives coverage through an employer, you can qualify to be covered under their insurance benefits for an additional premium. Even if you’re not officially married you still might qualify under a domestic partnership.
If you’re under the age of 26, you might qualify to be on your parent’s health insurance plan. The law recently changed to allow youth up to 26 years old to be included in their parents’ health insurance as dependents. This is a good safety net if you’re in that age category. However, there are some limitations to this such as supplemental dental and vision plans not carrying over.
Since the Affordable Care Act, self-employed individuals are able to insure themselves through the healthcare marketplace as an individual or a small business. These programs are affordable and open to all, even if you have a preexisting condition. You will need to make sure you enroll during the enrollment period if you want to receive coverage for the upcoming year.
Another federal program available to those who are eligible for social security benefits or those who are 65 and older is Medicare. This program is divided into four parts, and it’s an incredibly affordable way to receive coverage as you age. Once again, you’ll need to look for your unique enrollment window to ensure you receive care and avoid a fee.
The Freelancers Union
The Freelancers Union is an alliance for self-employed people across America. They offer benefits specifically geared towards freelancers, and this can be perfect if you want a private insurance plan but don’t know where to start your search. These programs are only available in certain regions, however, so you’ll need to review your eligibility.
The Freelancer Union also has resources for finding supplemental plans in your area. You can find anything from dental plans to travel medical insurance. Ultimately, this is a great resource for those who work for themselves.
Finally, look local for insurance eligibility. Check with your local chamber of commerce as well as local professional groups to see if they qualify for insurance. By purchasing insurance through a group, you’re able to have a similar effect to employer insurance. You’ll likely need to purchase a membership to one of these professional organizations, but it can be well worth it.
Health coverage isn’t optional in this day of age. As the cost of medical care continues to rise, you need to protect yourself and your business against any medical emergencies. Browsing for an insurance plan doesn’t have to be complicated as long as you know where to start your search. Utilize the resources above to find a plan that’s right for you.
It can be hard to justify the extra costs of insurance as a freelancer. Remember, your health is the most important thing you have. Without it, you can’t keep living your dream. That’s why it’s essential you have a plan to protect it.