If there’s any single concern that keeps employed professionals from starting their own business, it’s the issue of finding and securing suitable healthcare. Health insurance is a monster of an issue in the United States – one that’s attracted everything from rallies and marches to Senate bills dictating how it should be managed and why it’s a necessity for the bulk of the country’s working population.
Despite this, it remains a major concern for those that work independently, or as part of their own company. From costly programs to an outright lack of government or employer support, it’s not an easy process securing health insurance for yourself or your family when your sole income source is your own business. From bureaucracy to expenses, it’s a touch and surprisingly stressful process.
However, it’s a process that can be dealt with, and a challenge that can be beaten. Just like starting your own business is a stressful, one-against-the-world type of process, finding and managing your independent health insurance plan is possible. In fact, with the right strategy on your side, it’s often a much more cost-effective option than opting to receive healthcare as part of your employer’s plan.
In this brief guide, we’ll look at some of the most popular health insurance plans for self-employed people, some of the best ways to find low-cost yet versatile health insurance policies, and many of the best ways to cut costs while finding health insurance for your entire family. Whether you work as a contractor or a consultant, keep reading to learn how you can save money on health insurance.
Before we get in to finding health insurance policies for individuals, it’s important to check whether or not you’re eligible to receive care and coverage under a spouse’s plan. If you’re married, you may be able to receive coverage – often for a small additional fee – under the plan of your spouse. Check with your insurance company as to whether this is the case, and what’s required for you to qualify.
In many cases, it’s as simple as paying an additional single-person fee, which is generally less than what you’d end up paying for your own insurance policy. If your spouse is employed by a company that offers health insurance and other perks to its employees, look at whether or not they’re available to you. In many cases, you may qualify for additional forms of insurance through your spouse’s job.
But what if you’re single? If you’re an individual that’s recently left a position of employment – one where health insurance was part of your salary package – you may qualify for government support for up to twelve months. A US law called COBRA, which was enacted in 1986, helps workers with healthcare expenses by offering subsidized or free health insurance for up to twelve months.
This tends to be true whether you left your employer out of choice, in which case you resigned from your previous position; or you were terminated, leaving without your choice. Most ex-workers have the ability to claim up to twelve or eighteen months of coverage, although some can claim upwards of eighteen months of free case, based on the severity of their financial situation and background.
Before opting for either of these health insurance choices, it’s best to speak with an attorney or one of the COBRA system’s representatives to see if you qualify. There are a variety of restrictions for both of these services, largely based around the date of your employment ending. Long-term self-employed people may no longer qualify for COBRA care, and will need to pay by themselves.
If you don’t qualify for either of these options, it’s best to seek out an individual or family insurance policy that suits your requirements. Despite the supposed expense of insuring yourself when you’re a self-employed person, the reality is that it’s not that expensive to purchase insurance. Without an extensive history of illness, you’re unlikely to see higher rates than you would as an employee.
The age-old choice of HMO or managed care remains, and it’s one that’s no easier to answer now as it would have been before. As in any insurance consideration, think about your current status and its effects on your health requirements. Younger, relatively more healthy people are unlikely to need an entire, comprehensive managed care policy, while families may opt for something more inclusive.
Finally, if you work in a specific field, particularly as a contractor that’s represented by trade groups and other associations, you may be able to find low-cost insurance policies through industry bodies. Many contractors are eligible for care as part of a trade group in their industry, although few look at the possibility seriously. This is a major mistake – search and you can find great insurance deals.
It’s tempting to think that the world of self-employment is one that’s loaded with potential pitfalls and surprise expenses, but the reality is often quite the opposite. Healthcare expenses needn’t be a major expense, particularly for market-savvy contractors, consultants, and business owners.
The key, however, is in research. Rather than approaching health insurance as an employee would, approach it as an experienced, market-smart entrepreneur. With the right outlook and a great deal of research behind you, finding affordable – or even free – health insurance is a very likely reality.