Self-employed people and freelancers face unique challenges when choosing a health insurance plan. The biggest hurdle is not having an employer through whom they can get health insurance. Good news! Freelancers and self-employed people still have some good options when it comes to comprehensive, affordable health care.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has made it easier for people who fall into the self-employed category to find great health insurance. Each year, between November and December, state and federal marketplaces open up for enrollment into health plans. Additionally, local associations and industry-based organizations may offer health insurance options.
No matter which type of health insurance you’re looking for, getting the best coverage usually requires having a plan. The first step is to make sure you understand the basics of health insurance, including costs and coverage.
Medicaid provides health insurance to low-income families and individuals who need help paying for health care. Eligibility requirements differ according to the state you live in, as each state runs its own program. Generally speaking, if you make up to 133% of the federal poverty level (FPL), you may qualify for Medicaid. For 2020 coverage, you can use the 2019 FPL, which is $12,490 for an individual in all states, except for Alaska and Hawaii. Visit your state’s Medicaid website or healthcare.gov for more details.
If you’re under the age of 30, another option is to enroll in a catastrophic health plan. Under the ACA, these plans are only available to those under 30 years of age or people who have a hardship or affordability exemption. For those that do qualify, you can enroll in a catastrophic plan, which has the lowest monthly premiums and the highest deductibles. Exchanges offer catastrophic health plans during open enrollment, and these are ideal plans for those that simply want coverage for worst case scenarios. Their low monthly premium cost makes them appealing for those who cannot afford high monthly premiums, though people should understand that most routine medical expenses will have to be paid for out of pocket.
Bronze plans are the next level up and the lowest tier of the “metal” plans. Those that have a slightly bigger monthly budget for health care premiums may choose to enroll in a bronze plan and enjoy a little bit more coverage than is available through a catastrophic plan. These plans cover some routine medical expenses and have lower monthly premiums than silver, gold, or platinum plans. They do have higher copays and coinsurance than those other metal tiers, too. Those who are young and healthy often find bronze plans ideal as they provide some routine coverage as well as coverage for medical emergencies or unforeseen illnesses or injuries.
Silver plans are the next tier up on the metal scale. Freelancers and self-employed people that have a steady stream of income and families to consider may want to choose a silver plan. Silver plans offer more coverage than both catastrophic and bronze plans, including most routine care and testing. Monthly premiums are more expensive than those two options, but not quite as expensive as gold or platinum plans. The general rule of thumb is that silver plans cover about 70% of costs for benefits covered within the plan. This is a good middle-of-the-road option for freelancers who want comprehensive coverage but who may not want to spend gold or platinum dollars every month.
Premiums for gold plans are generally more expensive than bronze or silver plans, but they also pay more toward your covered benefits than those plans. They are also less expensive than platinum plans, though they tend to pay less toward covered benefits than a platinum plan. In general, gold plans cover about 80% of costs for benefits covered within the plan. While gold plans have higher premiums, they cover a higher percentage of your health care costs, which may be appealing to people who use their health insurance often or who have a lower tolerance for high out of pocket costs associated with care.
If you feel overwhelmed as a freelancer looking to find the right plan, don’t worry. There’s a lot to think about and plenty of information to digest. Rather than overwhelm you with options, we’ve cut through the tough stuff and boiled it down to the best options for freelancers.
The Pathfinder Bronze Plan is great for young and healthy freelancers who just need health insurance for themselves. If you’re looking for something comparable to a catastrophic plan that doesn’t break the bank but covers you if something unforeseen happens, this is your plan. Bonus: this plan offers free primary care, so you can see your doctor whenever you want without paying a dime. You can also enroll at any time because we offer open enrollment year round.
Our Lonestar Bronze plan is a perfect option for people who expect to use their insurance from time to time. If you’re looking for a bit more coverage that’s still super affordable, this is a great plan. You’ll love our $0 medical deductible, virtual direct primary care options, and Immediate copays on services. Bonus: this plan also offers free primary care, so you can see your doctor whenever you want without paying a dime. You can also enroll at any time because we offer open enrollment year round.
If you’re a freelancer who makes at least $55,000 per year, our Trailblazer silver plan might be “just right” for you. It’s ideal for those who have families (or who may start a family soon). Freelancers really love that this plan offers manageable copays for most everything. Bonus: this plan also offers free primary care, so you can see your doctor whenever you want without paying a dime. You can also enroll at any time because we offer open enrollment year round.
Interested in learning more about our unique health plans for freelancers? Get your free quote today!