It does not matter if you earn income from a side hustle or as a full-time freelancer. If you are not working for a company that provides health insurance, you are on your own to obtain coverage.
Health insurance for freelancers is not any different than the coverage available for those requiring their own plan. However, the type of coverage you may require should fit your personal health needs. There are seven common ways to get health insurance if you’re a freelancer.
COBRA – This acronym for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act allows former employees to continue their employer’s coverage for a limited time. Former employees may be required to pay up to 102% of the plan’s cost and must be offered by companies with at least 20 employees. COBRA can act as a bridge while you search for better or more affordable coverage.
Spouse / Partner / Parent Plans – You may be able to join your spouse or domestic partner’s health insurance plan. Similarly, if you are a student, you may still qualify for your parent’s plan up until the age of 26. The cost to join one of these plans range from $0 to 100% of the actual premium.
Affordable Care Act – Individual health insurance can be purchased through a marketplace created by the ACA, also known as Obamacare. An open enrollment period runs from November 1 to December 15 every year. You may also be eligible other times of the year if you have a qualifying event such as marriage, divorce, job loss, or birth of a child.
Freelancers Union – Specifically for bona fide freelancers, the Freelancers Union offers affordable plans with various benefit levels. However, plans are not available in all areas and like the ACA, you may only enroll during their enrollment period or after a qualifying event.
State Medicaid – For individuals or families whose income does not exceed 133% of the Federal poverty level, Medicaid coverage should be available. For freelancers just starting out and who cannot afford other options, Medicaid may work as a steppingstone until your income level increases.
Short-Term Insurance – With limited benefits, higher deductibles, but lower premiums, short-term insurance can work well as a stop gap when income may be too high for Medicaid but where other insurance options are not yet affordable.
Private Market Insurance – There is always the private market insurance marketplace where coverage may be purchased at any time. Freelancers with specific health insurance needs not offered under other options or who may have missed enrollment eligibility periods may find a solution within the broader private insurance market.
Finding health insurance as a freelancer can be a daunting task. Plus the cost of getting it wrong can be significant. With so many options available, it is important to do your homework. As licensed, independent insurance agents, we are here to guide you through the process. Reach out to us - we will help you identify your coverage needs and point you in the right direction at no cost to you. Whatever you do, don’t delay in exploring your options and finding the right coverage for you.