Finding affordable, quality health insurance coverage can be challenging when you are a freelancer or considering transitioning from traditional employment to being self-employed. Employer-sponsored plans are not an option, and individual plans often seem expensive when you aren’t sure how to shop for them. The good news is that buying health insurance doesn’t need to be difficult. And it doesn’t need to be cost-prohibitive.
If you are a freelancer or contemplating taking the leap into self-employment, here are 5 easy ways you can save money on health insurance.
Check Your Eligibility for Dependent, Medicare, & Medicaid CoverageThe foundational step for saving money on health insurance is obvious but often overlooked. You should begin by evaluating whether there are already affordable (or even free) insurance options already available to you. For example, 22% of freelancers are eligible to enroll as a dependent on someone else’s plan (e.g. a spouse, a parent, or domestic partner), and 40% of freelancers are eligible for Medicare or Medicaid.
- When shopping for individual health insurance, the Frank Zappa quote, “One size does not fit all” applies. There will be times when a traditional major medical policy is the best choice (e.g. maternity coverage is a necessity, pre-existing conditions are a factor, certain prescription coverage is needed, etc.), but there are also many times when one of the new tech-friendly, lower-cost plans will be the best choice. It may be hard to believe, but a lot has changed in the health insurance industry. Companies have innovated, and they are delivering great products that provide the coverage you need without the sticker shock.
- If you determined that a major medical plan is what is best for you and/or your family’s needs, you may be able to save with a premium tax credit. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides financial support to mid- and lower-income individuals to help reduce monthly premiums for plans purchased through an ACA marketplace. To be eligible for the credit you must meet certain criteria, including not having access to coverage through an employer and having a household income from 1 to 4 times the Federal Poverty Level (from $12,760 - $51,400 for an individual and from $26,200 to $104,800 for a family of four).
Deduct Health Insurance Premiums.Even if you are not eligible for a subsidy, you still might be able to save money on your major medical premium payments. Many freelancers can deduct health insurance premiums to significantly reduce tax liability. If you are self-employed, you may be able eligible to deduct premiums paid for medical, dental, and even certain long-term care insurance for you, your spouse, and your dependents. These deductions can amount to thousands of dollars a year.
Evaluate Alternatives to COBRA.One final recommendation for those looking to save money on health insurance costs: If you are recently unemployed, or if you are considering transitioning from working for an employer to employing yourself, try to avoid electing COBRA if you can. It is expensive – i.e. up to 102% of your premium cost. Certainly, there will be legitimate reasons to continue with COBRA coverage (you are being treated for a health condition, pre-existing conditions, network coverage, etc.), but if you can shop for coverage elsewhere, you may find what you need for a much lower price.
If you are a freelancer looking for health insurance or if you are considering freelancing, purchasing health insurance doesn’t need to be scary or cost-prohibitive. You just need to know where to shop and how to save. Visit SoleVenture and its insurance partners today to evaluate the insurance options available to you.