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Ashley PoynterSep 175 min read

Insurance for freelancers: your guide to self-employment health care

Updated: Sep 17

Being your own boss is awesome. You get to call the shots and focus on your passions. The catch? You also have to take care of health insurance. If you’re just getting started in researching your options for self-employment health care, this can be daunting. Good news! There are several different options for getting good coverage without losing your mind (or your pocketbook). Ok, here we go!

Finding temporary self-employment health care coverage

We understand that everyone’s situation is different. Some people may be dipping their toes into self-employment or are only planning to be self-employed for a short period of time. Others have jumped all the way in and plan to be self-employed for the foreseeable future. Each circumstance has different needs, so we’ll take a look at the options separately.

COBRA

COBRA insurance may be a good option if you have recently left full-time employment. COBRA enables you to continue carrying your previous employer’s group health insurance plan for up to 18 months in some cases. The difference is that you will be responsible for footing the entire monthly premium.

Short-Term health insurance

Depending on how long you plan to be self-employed, short-term health insurance could be a solid option and alternative to COBRA. Previously, short-term health insurance only covered up to one year maximum, but recent changes enable you to purchase plans with a duration of roughly a year — and those plans often have renewal options that can keep them active for up to three years. There are some things to know about short-term plans:

  • Monthly premiums may be quite low
  • Out-of-pocket costs on these plans tend to be high
  • Many pre-existing conditions are not eligible for coverage

Industry-specific health insurance

In some cases, you may be able to find industry-specific health insurance. These options may be offered through freelancer unions, alumni groups, or other industry associations. Since these plans are often quite bespoke, it’s important to read the fine print so you know exactly what you’re getting and how much you’ll be responsible to pay, both for out-of-pocket costs and monthly premiums.

Finding long-term self-employment health care coverage

Decided you’re in it for the long-haul? Awesome. There are several different options for securing long-term health insurance coverage that is both affordable and comprehensive.

Marketplace

The first option is the federal Marketplace at HealthCare.gov. It’s a one-stop-shop to discover eligibility for tax credits, Medicaid, and other special considerations. For those with children, you can also enroll kids in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). There are many different options for self-employment health care coverage on the Marketplace, and plans are organized by metal tiers so you have a general idea for how much insurance will cover on each plan. It’s important to note that you can only sign up for a new plan during the Open Enrollment Period (OEP), which usually runs from November 1 through December 15. In some cases, you may be able to enroll outside of that period if you’ve experienced a qualifying life event.

Private health insurance

Some people find it easier to secure health insurance through private avenues. Some insurance providers offer more bespoke plans than one can find on the Marketplace. These plans may offer more benefits or greater access to in-network providers. To find private health insurance options, visit the websites of health insurance companies or work with an insurance agent or broker to find the right plan for your needs that falls within your budget.

Tips for finding the best self-employment health care

Whether you’re doing a brief stint in the self-employment world or plan to work for yourself for years to come, consider the following tips when shopping for self-employment health insurance:

  1. Talk to agencies or associations that may help. Freelancers unions and other associations that help freelancers get set up may be able to offer you tailored help to find a plan that works for you.
  2. Don’t forget the Self-Employed Health Insurance Tax Deduction — you could save a ton!
  3. Don’t forget to consider all your options, including high deductible health plans (HDHPs) with HSAs
  4. Consider working with a broker who can help you identify a shortlist of great plans that fit into your budget

Decent gets self-employment health care

Here at Decent, we wanted to do better for self-employed individuals. We recognized the need for better, more affordable health insurance options for freelancers, contractors, and other self-employed people. Our goal is to provide smart health insurance for busy people. And since we know you’re busy, we accept new members year-round. Yep, we got you covered 365 days a year.

Here’s what we know: self-employment health care options are limited. Worse yet, the health insurance options that do exist have gotten 45% more expensive over the past 10 years. We’re trying to fix that, which is why we offer some of the most affordable, comprehensive health insurance plans in Austin, Texas. Don’t believe us? Check ‘em out.

Decent provides affordable options that are up to 40% below market rate. We also put our members’ health first by offering unlimited free primary care visits. We don’t screen for preexisting conditions and you can enroll any time. We’re here to support you in your self-employment journey. Ready to get started? Get your free quote today.