New technology, novel ways of working and rapid economic shifts in the last decade have unleashed the force of the independent professional economy like never before. Whether consultants, realtors, nutritionists, life-coaches, graphic designers, hobbyists-turned-entrepreneurs, freelancers, or in more recent years, gig economy workers, more and more Americans are powering the economic engine of the country through self-employment. People are no longer tied to a single paycheck and their life choices now come front and centre, with full control of their destinies.
But did you know that a visit to the E.R. alone can run as high as $3000 for uninsured patients? And that doesn’t even factor in the cost of treatment, medication, or surgery.
In the United States, medical insurance coverage is (usually) the onus of the employer. When you go independent however, you may find yourself intimidated by staggeringly high premiums, minimal coverage and unsettling amounts of verbiage by healthcare providers – which makes you stay away from it! No one wants things to go south, but Health Insurance could be that much-needed safety net to protect against unforeseen accidents, illnesses, and emergencies.
If you’ve just gone independent, or are a solopreneur, sole proprietor or freelancer, you have the following core options for purchasing coverage:
1. Group Plan
Purchase insurance as a “Group of 1”. This option is only available in about half of the states. Check aggregators such as EHealth or your current insurance service provider to check eligibility. In case that doesn’t work, you can hire a trusted friend or family member and pay them part-time minimum wage (must be 20 hours) to help you qualify for group health insurance plans.
2. Get low cost individual coverage
Head to Healthcare.gov and purchase individual coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchange called Health Insurance Marketplace. Based on your income, family size and medical history, you might just be eligible for fabulous tax credits and phenomenal savings. If lady luck is shining down on you, you might qualify for free or low-cost coverage through the Medicaid and CHIP programs in your state – which might meet all your current requirements!
3. Buy group health coverage with other freelancers
Say what? Yes, you read that right. Freelancer’s Union has been promoting the interests of independent workers through advocacy, education, and services for several years now. Sounds too good to be true? It gets even better – Membership is 100% free!In fact, Freelancer’s Union also offers low-cost preventive and emergency health coverage for independent professionals under 30 at less than $500 a month.
4. Buy Supplemental Insurance
Basic health coverage will only get you so much. You absolutely need to prepare for the unexpected. For a small top-up, you should be able to secure yourself a tidy dental insurance, critical illness coverage and accident insurance.
Knowledge is power, and all the information you need to make the right selection is at your fingertips! Your priorities and lifestyle as an independent professional are completely different from that of your 9-5 days! So when it’s time to choose your plan, here are a few major considerations to choose the best plan for you.
A. Your existing healthcare needs
Do you have prescription medications, preferred doctors, or frequent visits?
B. Current Lifestyle
Are you chained to your computer or can we find you midnight diving off the coast of Maldives? If your job involves frequent travelling, such as that of a travel photographer, the chances of meeting with an accident are more.
Straight up, how much can you afford to shell out for your insurance premium. Remind yourself to think of this as an investment within yourself vs a payment.
As an independent professional, even a day off from work due to ill health or a medical emergency can result in loss of business, thereby increasing chances of financial stress. Safeguard your hard-earned savings by providing them with a great cover for medical costs at the time of illness and medical emergencies!