How to Find Affordable Health Insurance if You’re Self-Employed by Laura Adams

Have you ever wondered how health insurance works if you are self-employed or own a domain small business? There is no denying that health insurance can be a huge expense when you are a business owner. However, there are several ways to find affordable coverage.

Here are seven affordable health care options to consider if you’re self-employed or no longer have access to a group plan.

1. Join a spouse or partner’s plan.

Many employers support premiums as workplace benefits. In addition, group policies are usually cheaper than private ones. Therefore, if your spouse or partner has health insurance through an employer, navigating their plan may be your best option.

However, be sure to double-check your plan options if you are not legally married as some employers do not offer home partner benefits.

If you are under 26, another option may be to join your parent’s health care plan. You can go this route even if you are married, living alone, or financially independent. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) will allow you to stay on their plan until your 27th birthday.

2. Enroll in a federal or state market plan.

Your next option is to obtain health insurance through a federal or state marketplace, such as Healthcare.gov. These markets were created after the passing of the ACA, specifically for consumers who do not have access to traditional employer-sponsored plans.

One downside is that open market registration runs from November 1 to December 15, with coverage starting on January 1. If you do not register within this period, you usually have to wait until the following year. The only exception is if you qualify for private registration due to loss of insurance, marriage, divorce, birth of a child, or resettlement. In this case, you have 60 days after the event to register.

In addition to Healthcare.gov, you can also obtain an ACA-qualified health plan directly from an insurance company, agent, health insurance broker, or online insurance aggregator. Two popular health insurance companies Aetna and United Healthcare.

3. Consider a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP).

An HDHP may be a good option if you’re in relatively good health. Your monthly premiums are low, but the drawback is that the out-of-pocket costs are much higher if you get sick.

If you sign up for HDHP, it’s also a good idea to open a health savings account or HSA. Your HSA contributions are 100% tax deductible and can be used on a tax-exempt basis to pay for eligible medical expenses, such as doctor bills, medications, eyeglasses, and more. It can save a lot of money.

4. Get a short term health plan.

If you miss the ACA health plan enrollment period, you can purchase a short-term health plan until the next open enrollment. However, there are some drawbacks to short-term health plans that you should be aware of:

  • Not all short-term plans meet ACA standards. If you don’t, you could face a state-imposed health penalty.
  • They may charge more for pre-existing conditions.
  • They may limit the benefits.
  • It may not cover routine services such as medication and preventive care.

Getting short-term health insurance is better than no plan at all, but you’ll want to find qualified coverage as soon as possible if you use this option.

5. Enroll in Medicaid and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program).

If your income is low enough, you may qualify for free or low-cost coverage through Medicaid or CHIP. To qualify, you generally have to earn less than the poverty level, which is currently $12,880 for individuals and $26,500 for a family of four.

Unlike ACA health plans, you can enroll in these programs at any time of the year. Learn more about this option at Medicaid.gov.

6. Get cobra coverage.

If you leave a job with employer-sponsored health insurance, you can enroll in COBRA (Comprehensive Uniform Budget Adjustment Act) coverage. This gives you the same benefits for up to 18 months after you leave work.

The main downside to COBRA coverage is that it can be expensive. Since employers are not required to pay for it, you are usually in a bind for premiums, plus a 2% management fee. It’s also temporary, so you’ll still need to look up coverage once it expires.

7. Find group policy through the Wholesale Club.

As strange as it may sound, clubs like Costco and AAA offers discounts for health insurance for members. They basically buy out the group’s policies, then open the doors for members to join. It should usually meet lower qualifications because it is a group policy. And you may get additional discounts on prescription drugs and care, too.

If you are already a member of one of these clubs, it may be worth looking into.

Health Insurance Shopping Tips

Finding Affordable Health Insurance as a entrepreneur It can feel challenging. But this is not impossible. Use these tips to find coverage that fits your budget.

And if you already have health insurance, shop once a year to see if any competitors offer similar or better plans at a lower price. If you don’t, you may be leaving money on the table.

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