Health insurance is often considered one of the key obstacles standing in the way of quitting your 9-to-5 and becoming 100% self-employed. Many let the fears of giving up their employer-based health plan outweigh their dreams to pursue their passions.
Our friends from eHealth are here to help you put your fears aside. This year, there are more individual health insurance options available than ever. And now, between November 1, 2018 and December 15, 2018 during the annual open enrollment period for Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans, is the perfect time to evaluate your options.
Here are five health insurance tips that will help you find the health insurance plan you need and potentially lower your health insurance costs.
Pick the winning “metal” for you.
The ACA requires health plans to cover 10 basic categories of care, but plans can differ by how much they pay toward your medical costs. There are four “metal” level plans you’ll have to choose from – bronze, silver, gold and platinum. Bronze plans generally have the lowest monthly premiums but require you to pay more out of your own pocket when you go for medical care. Platinum plans will cost the most monthly but cover more of your expenses each time you go to the doctor. The right plan for you will depend on your medical needs and your budget.
Know the provider network trade-offs.
Health plans sold through public and private health insurance exchanges include networks of doctors, hospitals and other health care providers that participate with the plan. Getting care with a participating health care provider will save you money. You may be able to lower your costs by selecting a plan that has more restrictions on which doctors you can visit. The key is to understand the trade-offs between lower monthly premiums and greater choice of health care providers. Also important is to check the list of pharmacies and drugs each plan covers.
Lower your premium by qualifying for a subsidy.
If you earn no more than about $48,000 as a single person or $98,000 as a family of four, you may qualify for government subsidies to lower your health insurance premiums. Without subsidies, the average individual pays $440 per month for a health plan or $1,168 for family coverage. Individuals who qualify for subsidies, by comparison, paid an average monthly premium $89 this year.
See if a small group health plan could be an option.
If you’re a small business owner with at least one full-time paid employee for tax purposes, you will generally qualify for a small business group health plan. There are several benefits to group coverage. Premiums are typically split between the employer and employee and are more stable year over year than individually purchased coverage. Dependents of employees can also be covered, and it helps businesses hire and retain the best workers, according to an eHealth survey. That’s why more than 3 in 5 small businesses offer health insurance. Compared to buying coverage on your own, small business coverage is more affordable on a per-person basis.
Compare all your options online.
ACA and small group plans are not the only health insurance plans available for freelancers. Multiple options can be evaluated for free at this special Fiverr health insurance website, driven by eHealth. Here you can compare ACA plan coverage with other affordable alternatives including medical insurance packages which combine plans such as those for preventive care, catastrophic events and more into a single packaged solution. Another option is a short-term health plan which offers limited coverage for a period of time. Short-term plans can last up to a year and may be renewed for up to three years and can offer meaningful protection against unexpected medical bills at a significantly lower cost. According to data from eHealth, the average monthly premium for short-term coverage is $110 per month. So, if you can’t afford other health insurance plans, consider short-term instead of going uninsured.
Don’t let health insurance stand in the way of your freelance dreams. There is a diverse range of health insurance options to choose from so that you can be confident you have the coverage you need.
eHealth.com is a leading private online health insurance exchange where individuals, families and small businesses can compare health insurance products from brand-name insurers side by side and purchase and enroll in coverage online and over the phone.
Have more questions about healthcare, freelancers? Ask the eHealth team in the comments below—and don’t forget to sign up for Open Enrollment before 12/15!