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Health Insurance Options for Self-Employed Workers: What's Available?

Jun 29, 2020 3 min read Zina Kumok

There are many perks to being a freelancer or self-employed: For example, you may have more business autonomy or enjoy greater work-life flexibility. But health insurance options for self-employed people can be tricky. It can be hard to navigate the health insurance landscape without an employer offering several plans to choose from.

Learn how to find options and where to find the most affordable plans.

 

 

Look at the health care marketplace options

The federal health insurance marketplace offers health insurance options for self-employed workers or freelancers. If you make 400% or less Opens in new window of the federal poverty guidelines, you'll also qualify for a subsidy to minimize the cost.

The marketplace has an open enrollment period that starts Nov. 1 and ends Dec. 15 each year. This is the only time you can purchase from the marketplace, unless you have a special qualifying event Opens in new window like marriage, the birth of a child or moving to a new ZIP code.

 

Join a group or union

If you're a member of an organization for freelancers or self-employed people, see if they offer a group insurance plan. They may have lower rates than the health care marketplace, similar to how an employer offers lower group rates.

Ask other people in your line of work if they're part of such groups, and do your research. You may even find several groups that offer insurance plans, so compare options and see what makes sense. You never know what you might find — and how much money you might save.

 

Use a spouse or domestic partner's coverage

If you're married or are in a domestic partnership, you may have access to health insurance through your spouse or partner. This depends on their employer's health insurance options, but it may be an option.

This health insurance may be expensive, but it may be less expensive than in the health care marketplace. If you want to join your spouse or partner's coverage, you may have to wait until open enrollment or until they have a qualifying event. They can talk to their HR representative and ask if there is any way to add you to their insurance plan.

 

Staying on COBRA

If you recently left a job, you may still be eligible for that employer's health insurance because of COBRA (continuation of health coverage) laws. Unfortunately, you'll have to pay for the entire cost of the plan, which may be much more expensive than you're used to.

Still, this also makes it easier to transition because you'll have access to the same doctors and providers. You can also stay on COBRA for at least 18 months, which should be enough to figure out where you can buy your next plan. This may be on the health care marketplace, through a self-employed group plan or through your partner's employer.

 

Footnotes

 

Zina Kumok is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance. She has written for the Associated Press, Indianapolis Monthly and more. She also writes a blog about how she paid off her student loans in three years.

 

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