Health Insurance for Freelancers: 21 Must-See Options for 2021
Looking for the best health insurance for freelancers?
Finding the right plan can be daunting, and the clock is ticking. Open enrollment for most plans runs from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15.
Every writer’s situation is different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to choosing health insurance for freelancers. But good choices do exist.
- For writers who are transitioning into a freelance career, there are several short-term options to keep you insured while you get established.
- If you’re an experienced freelance writer, now is a great time to rethink your health insurance and decide whether you want to make changes.
Some exciting innovations and alternatives are gaining ground, but they aren’t all available across the entire U.S. Wherever you live, take time to explore what new choices might be available in your area.
Even if you’re young and healthy, investing in health insurance as a freelancer is always a smart choice. As we’ve already seen in 2020, we never know what might happen. A basic policy may cost less than you expect.
Ready to discover your best healthcare strategy for 2021? Check out this list of 22 health insurance for freelancers options + some out-of-the-box alternatives.
1. Traditional individual or family policy
Traditional plans are a popular choice for freelancers who earn too much to qualify for government assistance. Some policies can be expensive, but there’s a wide range of coverage levels. Find the best fit by working with a local broker or using an online service like ehealth.
2. Health Insurance Marketplace
The U.S. government-sponsored Marketplace provides reduced cost insurance options for Americans with low incomes. To avoid counterfeit sites, use the link above or type healthcare.gov into your browser.
3. Expanded Medicaid
Think you make too much money for Medicaid? Maybe not. Several states offer enhanced versions of Medicaid with less restrictive income requirements. Check your state government website to learn more.
4. Family member’s policy
Many freelancers can get insurance coverage through a spouse’s or partner’s policy. Adults age 26 or younger can remain on a parent’s policy.
5. Part-time job with benefits
It’s rare, but a few companies such as Starbucks and UPS offer health insurance to part-time employees. A side job like this is a great option to get health insurance for freelancers. It’s also a good choice when you’re transitioning into freelancing to have steady income.
6. Associations or groups
Local Chambers of Commerce, professional associations like the Freelancers Union, and other groups sometimes partner with insurance companies to provide special pricing to members. Insurance coverage through associations is not closely regulated, so do your research before signing on.
7. Regional or local options
A variety of innovative plans are springing up across the country, for example:
- OSCAR serves people who don’t qualify for employer-based insurance. It operates in New York, Texas, California, and several other states.
- Sidecar Health, available in 18 Southern and Midwestern states, allows members to see any doctor they wish at cash-pay discount prices. Ask around and see what’s available where you live.
COBRA lets you keep your health coverage when you leave a full-time job. You’ll pay all the premiums out of your own pocket, but you can stay covered for up to 18 months.
9. Short term health insurance for freelancers
Under these plans, you can buy the types of coverage you need for a short period of time. They’re a good stopgap measure if you need insurance between enrollment periods.
10. High-deductible policies
If you’re healthy and don’t need much medical care, a high-deductible plan will keep your monthly insurance costs low. The unexpected can happen to anyone, so combine your plan with a well-padded Health Savings Account (see option 21 below)
11. Health indemnity plans
Indemnity plans are another good option for freelancers who don’t have many medical issues. You pay in advance, and if you spend less than you invested, you get the difference back. If you spend more, it comes out of your own pocket.
12. Corporate or business policies
These options vary by state, but if you may qualify for a group insurance policy if you’re registered as a business. In some states you must have at least one employee (besides yourself). Check out the federal Small Business Health Options Program to see what’s available in your area.
Outside-the-box health insurance for freelancers
The healthcare industry is changing rapidly, and consumers have choices that weren’t available 10 or 20 years ago. Consider using some of the cost-saving options below to supplement or replace your traditional health insurance for freelancers.
13. Direct primary care
See your doctor as often as you need to, for one flat monthly fee. Many direct primary care providers also offer discounts on prescriptions and lab work. Their patient loads are smaller, so they can spend more time with you during office visits. Combine this option with an insurance plan that covers hospitalizations and other specialized care.
14. Discounts for paying up front
Whether you’re using insurance or footing the whole bill yourself, always ask if there’s a discount for paying in full. You can arrange discounts directly with a provider or use a service like NYC-based Slingshot Health to act as a broker.
15. Faith-based medical cost sharing plans
Cost sharing plans are not insurance. When a member has a healthcare need, other members pitch in to pay the costs. Payment isn’t guaranteed. Some plans require you to sign a statement of faith. Others, like Liberty Health Share, accept members who don’t identify as Christian.
If the worst happens and you have a medical crisis that’s not covered by insurance, consider a fundraiser on GoFundMe or Facebook to help with the bills.
17. Medical loans and credit cards
Large medical expenses can be financed. Your health provider may offer you an application for a medical credit card. These cards are convenient, but they often include hefty deferred interest rates and stiff nonpayment penalties. Consider a traditional credit card or a medical loan from your bank instead.
18. Add medical coverage to your auto insurance
Auto insurance only covers healthcare costs related to car accidents. But if your other health coverage is spotty, consider this low-cost option to protect yourself in case you do have a wreck.
19. Medical tourism
Health care is more expensive in the U.S. than it is in many other parts of the world. Some Americans travel elsewhere for elective or non-urgent procedures. Options are more limited during the pandemic, but it’s an intriguing possibility to keep on your radar for later.
Many health providers now offer video appointments, at a lower cost than an in-person visit. Get prescriptions, lab orders, and medical advice, all without leaving your home.
21. Health Savings Accounts
A health savings account (or HSA) is a tax-deductible account where you can put aside money toward future health expenses. It’s a prudent option no matter what your insurance situation is like.
22. Direct-pay digital health plans
What if you don’t have insurance, but need medical care or medication? There’s an emerging model that gives freelancers access to healthcare services and prescription medications at deep discounts. The digital healthcare company Sesame says it saves patients up to 60% per booking.
Get the facts: Health insurance for freelancers
The cheapest health insurance for freelancers isn’t always the best value. Before you plunk down your money, research these key factors:
Deductibles and co-payments
Be clear about much money you might have to pay for health care on top of your monthly premiums.
Once you spend a certain amount on medical care, some policies will cover any additional care at 100%. Find out whether your plan has an out-of-pocket maximum and what the amount is. This feature could save you from financial disaster if you end up with big medical expenses.
Lifetime or annual coverage limits
The 2010 Affordable Care Act made most insurance “caps” illegal, but some older plans have them grandfathered in. If your plan has a limit on the amount it will pay, it may be time to shop for a new policy.
Some policies may not cover certain procedures or screenings. Ask about anything that’s important to you, so you understand exactly what you’re getting.
In-network provider list
Seeing a healthcare provider outside the network can be much more expensive, so make sure the in-network list is as robust as possible.
Choose the plan that fits your situation
There’s no way around it—finding and affording good health insurance for freelancers can be a challenge. But strong, workable options do exist. You may be able to combine a few different ideas from this list, or you might find even more options in the area where you live.
There’s also a lot you can do in the long term to manage your health care proactively:
- Make good health a priority for yourself and your family.
- Build your writing and marketing skills, so you can move up and earn more
- Then invest part of those higher earnings into savings or a more comprehensive insurance policy.
And if you’re frustrated with the state of health insurance for freelancers in the U.S., use your voice and your VOTE to work for change.
What’s your plan for health insurance as a freelancer? Share in the comments below.
Maria Veres is a freelance writer based in Oklahoma City and a frequent contributor to Make a Living Writing.
The post Health Insurance for Freelancers: 21 Must-See Options for 2021 appeared first on Make a Living Writing.
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