This is arguably the most important type of health insurance, but self-employed individuals can have a tricky time sourcing the right policy. As it will be a higher cost than with a traditional employer, it becomes important to know your way around the issues. The following tips will hopefully give you some ideas when purchasing health insurance.
Alternative Options to an Individual Policy
While these may not be applicable to you, you do have alternatives to individual policies. These could certainly save you some money.
Keep Your Employer’s Health Insurance
If you recently lost your job, you may be able to keep your insurance. In some cases this can be an option for quite some time, maybe until you find another job. Of course, it could also buy you some time if you need it, in order to find a permanent plan for yourself.
However, you won’t like the price tag. A recent statistic shows that workers typically pay 28% of their insurance costs. In most cases, if it is even applicable, this is a short-term idea, but one that has worth.
Get on Your Spouse’s Plan
If you are married, and he or she has a plan through their employer, this can be a golden opportunity. It will normally be much cheaper – as we just saw – than any individually-purchased plan.
If this applies to you, you may be required to wait until an open enrolment period to sign up for health insurance. Look into special enrolment options, via the plan’s administrator, that may be available as well.
Health Savings Account
While this is not an alternative to health insurance, take advantage of the health savings account. This can provide tax savings and allow you to use a policy with a high deductible.
The Standard Individual Plan
How to go about searching for a plan is the first step.
You have two best bets to start the search. First, look at groups such as guilds, unions, and other membership organizations; they might have a pool with insurance options where savings can occur. Alternatively, consult your existing insurance provider (home insurance, car insurance, and so on) to see if they can get you started, or point you in the right direction.
Overall, the same points apply when looking for coverage. Take a look at what you need in a plan, from your typical expenses (office visits, prescriptions, and possible hospital expenses) to others (vision, mental health benefits, maternity care, etc.).
Compare and keep notes with regard to potential health insurance providers. Once you have a firm grasp of your needs, you can easily compare different levels of coverage, and gauge premiums, deductibles, and the basics of health insurance.
Items to Keep in Mind
Self-employed health insurance premiums can be tax deductible. Take a look into this to realise savings for these costs.
You should also keep an eye on your business, if applicable. Once the business you own, or are involved in, amasses some employees, a business-sponsored health plan may come into the equation.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, watch the timing of this process. It is never wise to go without health insurance. Also, if you take too long in between providers (something you want to prevent completely, if possible), your new insurer could exclude a pre-existing condition for up to a year.
Evaluate all options, including those that can be used in conjunction (like the health savings account), before moving forward. Take into account what you need, compare policies, and keep an eye on your calendar to avoid unwanted breaks in your coverage.