If you’re self-employed and don’t have health insurance, you’re taking a huge chance.
There are all types of self-employed workers. You might be one of those self employed folks with a types of self-employed workers. Say, you’re a dog walker….well, until you trip over that cute Yorkie and it’s impossible to handle all those leashes (because your broken arm is in a sling).
You can get health coverage, and it’s easier than you think. There are 3 basic ways you can get health insurance if you’re one of the nation’s self employed workers:
- Apply through the health insurance marketplace.
- Apply through an independent insurance company that handles health insurances.
- Marry somebody who has really great insurance.
Let’s skip the advice on how to achieve #3.
We’ll focus on the first two options!
What is Self Employed Health Insurance?
When you own your own business, and are an independent contractor, you need to get you own health insurance coverage. The rising cost of health care is staggering, but once you have a health insurance plan, you can check that worry off your list. If you don’t have a health plan, you may pay a federal tax penalty.
How to Choose the Best Self Employed Health Insurance Coverage
Self employed individuals have varying health insurance plan needs. For example, you may need a children’s health insurance program. You may worry about being able to afford the premiums, plus the deductible.
Here are factors to keep in mind as you read:
- How much can you afford to pay for monthly premiums for health care coverage? Which gives you the most worry, high monthly premiums or a high deductible?
- Do you want to go with a company that offers an umbrella policy, that includes dental and vision?
- Do you want to be able to start a Health Savings Account (HSA)? If so, you’ll have a certain requirement for the deductible ($1,350 single, $2,700 family). You can subtract contributions ($3,650 single, $7,300 family) from your adjusted gross income. As long as you use the HSA money to pay health costs, it won’t be taxed. An HSA is a way to save money on health insurance (and income taxes), since you can save and spend pretax dollars.
- Customer Services – How much time would you like to spend on hold? Consider the health care insurance company’s reputation.
- Do you want a minimum of coverage, such as preventative care, or do you want to provide coverage for worst case scenarios (catastrophic plans). Or do you want a happy medium between those two extremes?
Buying health insurance takes some research. Here’s our best advice for streamlining that process:
- Start with the National Health Care website, established by the affordable care act, also called Marketplace plans or the health insurance marketplace. The affordable care act makes it possible for everyone – not just low income people – to find a health plan that fits. Even if your income is very high, you can still get coverage through HealthCare.gov – you just won’t get any tax credits. You’ll find the big health insurance providers (such as Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, United) and you can compare policies side by side. You can enter your estimated income and see your options.
- Armed with that information, including the name and any identifying numbers for the policies you like, visit the websites for those health insurance providers. See if they provide health coverage for similar cost apart from the HealthCare.gov site.
- As a self employed individual, find an independent insurance agent who handles health care policies. You’ll already have information about features and policies you like. See what an agent can do for you.
SHOP is part of HealthCare.gov. It’s one of the health insurance options that small businesses can consider. There are plans for businesses with fewer than 10 employees, fewer than 25 and fewer than 50.
Independent contractors can tuck this information away, in the event you need to hire workers and want to provide health insurance as an incentive. In a nutshell – through SHOP, you pay half of the employees’ health insurance premiums. Then you’ll get a small business health care tax credit, which will be half of the money you paid. If you can afford health coverage and provide a health plan for workers, you’re likely to be more competitive to attract employees.
6 Top Companies for Self Employed Health Insurance Plans
Depending on your geographic location, you’ll find the first four listed on the HealthCare.gov site. We’ve also included links direct to the company’s website.
United Health Care can provide health, dental and vision. Marketplace plans with a high deductible may have very low premiums. United insurance company also offers short term health insurance and student health insurance.
2. Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield
Health insurance options for Anthem include health, dental and vision. Anthem also offers a group health insurance plan (for 2 to 50 employees) and short term health insurance. Due to the wide range of availability and its large network throughout the country, it’s one of the best health insurance options.
Cigna is available in 14 states and steadily growing. The company offers medical and dental plans, but no vision plans. Cigma is unique in that it offers rewards for clients who complete preventive care requirements, such as annual physicals. The company also has plans for specific conditions, such as diabetes.
Aetna has individual plans and plans for employers. The company offers medical, dental and visions plans. There are also international plans. Both on and off the Marketplace, Aetna has plans with charges that vary depending on household income.
Molina isn’t currently one of the Marketplace ACA plans but deserves a mention. That’s because Molina has a special focus on Medicaid and medicare plans, which may interest those “older” self employed people. Molina also offers health coverage.
With an Oscar plan, you’ll get free access to virtual care in 22 states. There are also health care and prescription plan coverage. Oscar offers rewards for making healthy choices, such as a program where your account will be credited $1 for every day you reach your Steps goal (up to $100). As part of the services the company offers, Oscar clients are matched to a dedicated care team.
How to Get Self Employed Health Coverage
If you’ve lost or will lose your job and can use COBRA to extend the insurance from your former employer, do so. But as soon as you become an independent contractor, start shopping to avoid paying for health care costs.
The Marketplace has an annual open enrollment period, but you can get coverage outside of open enrollment if you need a special enrollment period – for example, if you’ve lost your job or have moved, and need a new health insurance plan for coverage.
Shop on the marketplace and shop for private health insurance. Don’t delay getting coverage. You can’t be denied because of your health status or medical history.
Self Employed Health Insurance Deduction
When you pay for health coverage as an independent contractor, you can deduct the amount you pay from your gross income when you file a tax return. In that way, the extra cost you pay for coverage each calendar year can benefit you during the year – because you’ll have insurance – and when you file taxes. It may help you be able to subtract more than the standard deduction from your gross income.
Self Employed HSA for Health Insurance
You can have an HSA is your deductible meets the guidelines ($1,350 single and $2,700 family). You can contribute a max of $3,650 single and $7,300 family (for 2022). An HSA is a good way to save and a good tax deduction. It’s also a nice cushion for health insurance plans.
The amount you can contribute may vary based on how much you feel you can stash there – and you can only use it for health care costs. You can take out the money for another reason, but it will then be taxed. Your best bet is to set up an HSA, and build it as you can.
After the age of 65, you can take out the HSA money and use it any way you like.
Which is the best health insurance for self employed?
The large companies such as United, Aetna and Anthem BCBS offer policies with similar costs and features. Make sure the company you choose has good coverage in your state.
How much does self employed health insurance cost?
You can get a Marketplace plan for less than $20 a month, but the deductible may be higher than $6,000.
Yet we’d argue that such a place is better than no plan. Medical care for a simple broken arm or leg would easily top $10,000.
What is the maximum income to qualify for free health care?
To qualify for free health care, your income must be 150% of the federal poverty level. That figure is re-established annually.