Freelancing and part-time work offer freedom the 9-5 grind can’t. But that extra flexibility comes with some extra responsibilities like finding your own health insurance. As tempting as it is to knock on wood and hope your green smoothies keep you out of the doctor’s office, you need health insurance to be prepared for the worst.
As a freelancer myself, the cost of health insurance is top of my mind, #adulting, am I right? So let’s look at health coverage options from least expensive to most expensive.
If you’re under the age of 26, you can stay on your parent’s health insurance plan (hey, milk it while you can). If you’ve crossed your quarter-life threshold and are coupled up, then you may be able to get on your partner or spouse’s health insurance plan depending on their employer’s policy.
Single pringles and anyone else who can’t take advantage of a family plan are looking at sourcing their own health insurance.
Check out the Marketplace
Start your search on The Health Insurance MarketPlace. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), this is a hub where individuals who are self-employed or work part-time can review plans and choose one that works for their family and budgets. If you’re pregnant, have a low income, children, or a disability you may qualify for Medicaid or the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The Marketplace will ensure you are connected with a state agency when you fill out the enrollment form so you can review those options.
The Health Insurance Marketplace open enrollment for 2021 has passed, but don’t worry, you’re not totally out of luck. You can still enroll anytime if you lost your insurance coverage, got married, moved, or had another ‘qualifying life event.’
The Marketplace is a must for reviewing your coverage options, but you shouldn’t stop there. Just like you would shop around for a car, you want to shop around for health coverage. There are several other coverage options available, each with specific eligibility requirements that might be a better fit.
Sharing is caring
If you’re an active member of a religious group, you might be eligible for a Health Care Sharing Ministry. These plans are not traditional ‘insurance,’ per se. Instead, the community pools money together, and when you need a medical expense covered you can apply to use the funds from the pool. Keep in mind these are not regulated insurance plans, so the ministry can charge what they choose and cover what is deemed ‘morally appropriate.’ So you should really be an active member and down with the ministry’s values.
If you’re a part-time employee, you can ask if your employer offers a Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement (QSEHRA). If this is an option, your employer could reimburse you up to $4,950 per year and up to $10,000 per year if you have a family. These programs are not necessarily an insurance replacement, but rather a health reimbursement arrangement that can help you cover medical expenses. Choosing to pair this with a plan from the Marketplace could help you cover a hefty deductible.
Freelance If you’re a member of the Freelancers Union you should review the PPO or Preferred Provider Organization health plan. To be eligible for this plan, freelancers must have a monthly income of $2,400 and an EIN. Right now this plan is only available for freelancers in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania.
While it may be tempting to be a part of a freelancer’s PPO, these plans can be more expensive than ones you find on the open marketplace. So keep a few tabs open and compare any alternative health plans to your options on the Marketplace.
COBRA (not the snake)
Finally, let’s talk about the most expensive health insurance plan, COBRA. COBRA is offered by your employer if you lost your job or in some cases if you leave your job. It is a temporary health insurance option where you’re allowed to continue with your existing employer coverage. You will pay the premium your employer would typically pay in addition to your premium, so you can easily expect to pay double. When I quit my traditional full-time job in 2019 to freelance, I found the Health Insurance Marketplace plans were much more affordable, so I passed on COBRA coverage.
WTF is an HSA?
As you weigh your health insurance options keep in mind that you will have out-of-pocket expenses in addition to your monthly premium. This is especially true if you opt to keep your monthly premium low with a high deductible health insurance plan. To help offset these costs you might want to open a Health Savings Account (HSA) to stash away funds so you can cover your deductible and any other medical expenses. We suggest you review HSA accounts (LINK HERE) and shop around just
2020 hit most of us like a freight train and made being prepared for the worst a top priority. Looking for the right health insurance plan might cut into your TikTok time, but it’s the smart thing to do because you never know when a global pandemic might hit. Plus, if you did something ‘normal’, like burn your hand with all that bread making at home, you’d want coverage for that too.