10 Affordable Options to Buy Health Insurance When Self-Employed

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So you're trying to buy health insurance when self-employed but don't want to break the bank? Here are the top 10 health choices that are budget-friendly and affordable for small business owners and freelancers.

Trying to buy health insurance when self-employed isn’t fun. There are many choices but not all of them are affordable?

How can you find good coverage without breaking the bank?

On January 1, 2014, the Affordable Care Act became fully implemented. This means individuals and employers alike are mandated to have health insurance coverage — or forced to pay a fine.

In 2015, my income tax program estimated that I had to pay a $1,000+ fee if I didn’t have health insurance.

That’s quite a large chunk of money for opting out of Obamacare. Thankfully though, you have options!

I found the best solutions to buy health insurance when self-employed. And the best part is, that are also budget-friendly.

Running low on time?

eHealthInsurance.com is the most popular health insurance comparison site with our readers. If you find a plan for less than $300 you’ll want to jump on it!

1. eHealthInsurance

eHealthInsurance is one of the most affordable health insurance options for self-employed freelancers. You can compare different health plans available for yourself or your family in the area you currently live.

After putting in my information in (Denver, CO, 2 adults), it gave me over 100 options and the cheapest price of about $198 a month.

If you’re in the pre-existing condition pool, no worries. Some states offer health plans through a high-risk pool. The government also offers a Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, but enrollment is currently suspended.

Depending on the severity of the pre-existing condition, a regular insurance company may not automatically decline (although I’m sure the rates reflect it).

Unfortunately, conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes are likely to result in an automatic decline. That’s when the high-risk pool plans and PCIP come in handy.

Get ehealth insurance

Click here to learn more about eHealthInsurance and how it can save you money every month!


2. Healthcare sharing ministry

In the event that you have strong beliefs against government-sanctioned programs, then you should check out a healthcare sharing ministry. Even if you simply want to stop paying the ridiculous open market health insurance prices, a sharing program is a great alternative.

This is something that my husband and I (who are both self-employed). We enrolled in a healthshare caring ministry this past year and have loved the program so far!

As a member of a healthcare sharing ministry, you get access to a “shared box”. This is where you contribute a monthly premium to help fund yours, and other members’ health care costs.

With Liberty Healthshare we only pay $135 annual fee plus our $307 per month share portion. That’s a heck of a lot cheaper than our $455 per month coverage with Obamacare. And we didn’t even have dental or vision coverage discounts like we do with Liberty Healthshare.

Here are the three main plans that come with Liberty Healthshare.

  1. Liberty Share – Great for the budget-conscious family, this plan offers 70% coverage of medical bills up to $25,000 per incident. Annual membership cost is $125 for the first year then $75 each year after that. Plans start at $107 for single individuals under age 30.
  2. Liberty Plus – This plan is what my family has, and covers 100% of medical bills up to $25,000 per incident. Annual membership cost is $135 for the first year then $75 each year after that. Plans start at $131 for single individuals under age 30 and also includes SavNet pharmacy, dental and vision enrollment savings card.
  3. Liberty Complete – There are no restrictions with this plan as it covers 100% of medical bills up to $1,000,000 per incident. Annual membership cost is $135 for the first year then $75 each year after that. Plans start at $149 for single individuals under age 30 and also includes SavNet pharmacy, dental and vision enrollment savings card.

liberty-healthcare-sharing-ministry

There are other healthshare caring ministries out there, including:


3. Health insurance exchange plans

The Health Benefit Exchange Plan regulates where families, individuals and small businesses can shop for affordable health insurance. This is especially evident in the New York area.

What makes the health insurance exchanges attractive, is that it has opened up competition for insurance companies to compete on the same playing field and make comparison shopping much easier for the shopper.

If your self-employed income total is between 122- 400% of the federal poverty level, then you’ll likely qualify for a subsidy. This could reduce your premium to less than 10% of your gross income.

All freelancers should be aware that they have the ability to drop their health insurance plans — without penalty. You can also change to a plan that better suits your needs and income. This is what a health insurance exchange plan provides!


4. Health Savings Account (HSA)

A Health Savings Account is an account that allows you to have much more self-control over health insurance and tax-free funds. Plus, you get a tax deduction for contributing into it.

So what is a Health Savings Account exactly?

An HSA is an account that’s linked to a high-deductible health plan (HDHP). It allows you and your family to pay for qualified medical expenses using a separate account.

Usually you get a debit card with the account, so you can easily pay for everything from prescriptions, to LASIK eye surgery and other surgical procedures. It’s an individually owned account that could potentially save you 20-30% on your medical expenses.

And the good news is, you own the account! The money you contribute into an HSA belongs to you and your family to do with as you wish. The only rule is that you must spend it on qualified medical expenses to avoid paying taxes or a penalty.

Any interest earned on the funds is tax-deferred and any withdrawals from the account are tax-free, when spent on approved medical expenses. No matter how long the money remains in the account, you’ll never lose it.

Unlike flexible spending accounts, any money you don’t use in your HSA will remain in your account from year to year, and continue to accrue interest until pay for medical expenses.

Learn more about the benefits a Health Savings Account online at the HSA Store.


5. Secure doctor consultations

Consulting a doctor online about minor health issues can save you a ton of money. And not just on your medical bills but an online doctor consult can save you money on the deductible for your health insurance.

Here’s how it works: Using HealthTap’s secure website you can ask a certified doctor any of your health related questions. Within a few minutes you’ll be connected to someone who can answer all your health questions and help you come up with a solution.

You can also get a second opinion and finally get the peace of mind you deserve! Plus, you’ll save both time and money on health insurance and health-related problems.

Click here to compare an online doctor consultation to a traditional urgent care appointment.

HealthTap


6. National Association for the Self-Employed

NASE is an organization that provides day-to-day support for the self-employed. Besides access to legal and tax professionals, discounts on financial software and payroll services, NASE also gives its members access to affordable health insurance.

Some member benefits give you access to Health Savings Accounts and life insurance policies. Annual memberships cost $25 for students and a max of $120 for general members.

The cost includes health insurance premiums, which varies based on state and your personal plan. As a freelance business owner you also get access to big savings as stores like Office Depot, LegalZoom, QuickBooks, TurboTax and more.

Check out their website for more information on member benefits or request a form for insurance.


7. The Freelancers Union

Depending on your state, the Freelancers Union also has excellent health insurance options, as well as loads of other benefits for members. They group members together in order to keep costs much lower than on the individual market. (For example, 30% lower in NY.)

One of the main things that I like about The Freelancers Union is that it’s completely free to join and start browsing their resources, health insurance costs and other insurance needs.

Simply enter your zip code on their website for group rates on health insurance.

Freelancers Union health insurance


8. National Association of Health Underwriters

The National Association of Health Underwriters (NASE) represents over 100,000 health insurance agents within the United States. It directs you to local agents that will help find the best plan for your situation as a self-employed freelancer, all while promoting affordable health care.

Much like NASE, NAHU is an organization that helps anyone from large fortune 500 companies to freelancers who prefer an individual experience, or are overwhelmed by all the options. An agent can make the process less confusing and more personable.

In addition, you’ll get access to many of the same benefits and savings as you would with other organizations. There are business and marketing tools, personal development and training, client management apps and even wellness programs to help you gain access to many much-needed benefits.


9. GoHealth

As seen in USA Today, CNBC and FOX News, this resource is very similar to eHealthInsurance.com in what it offers. With GoHealth you just enter your state, you and your family member’s ages and genders, then answer if you’re a smoker/nonsmoker. It then displays a list of providers with different rates and deductibles.

They also have more than 10,000 licensed insurance agents who are available to help match you with the best, and more affordable health care option.

Think of GoHealth as your personal matchmaker and platform to help navigate your health insurance plans and costs.

And the best part is they specifically offer self-employed health insurance for those of us who own our own businesses.

For more info head over to the GoHealth website.

gohealth-insurance


10. Telemedicine services

Another budget-friendly health insurance alternative that’s gaining popularity are Telemedicine services. Telemedicine services are just like they sound, it’s a medical service that allows you to speak to a qualified doctor via the telephone or video call.

You simply register as a patient and then provide your medical history to a popular telemedicine company. Whenever you have a small medical emergency or need to ask questions, you’ll be connected to a licensed doctor.

Then, depending on your specifics, they can make an educated diagnosis, provide treatment recommendations and even write a prescription if needed. They can also refer you to a primary care physician.

And the best part is that they have access to all of your medical records, which helps them tailor their advice. Since this service is all done over the phone, or virtually, the cost of a checkup or consultation is drastically reduced.

Companies that offer telemedicine services include:

Obviously each company has their own set of pricing and perks, but the core benefit is the same. You can speak to a licensed doctor about any questions or illness you have, virtually at any time.

Using a telemedicine service could save you thousands of dollars on yearly medical visits and checkups, as well as prevent small medical issues from rapidly becoming worse.


Buy health insurance when self-employed

The main point of all of this is that it REALLY depends on where you live and who you are covering. These resources should give you a good starting point for finding affordable health insurance coverage as a freelancer.

It will also keep your mind at ease knowing that you and your family are protected if a medical emergency arises. And you won’t have to pay a high penalty on your taxes next year!

13 comments

  1. I still don’t know much about an HSA. I’ve looked into some of these other things and so far it paid off to just get my own HI privately using a broker. All other things like cobra, unions, etc were much more expensive. Crazy to think since I pay about 230/month and have a 5k deductible. Thanks for the tips!

  2. I’m still a little uncertain/nervous about the health care changes coming this fall.

    I’ve already been notified by my healthcare provider (which I found on eHealthInsurance) that everyone has to pick a new plan this fall.

    I currently pay $110 a month for a high-deductible plan, and I’m guessing I’ll have to pay more. Hopefully I’ll get better benefits, too, at least!

  3. Kevin Haney says:

    On balance I think PPACA will help more self employed people than it will help.

    It will help those just starting out whose incomes may be low. This is where the subsidies make a big difference. It will also help anyone with a preexisting condition who was unable to buy individual coverage in the past.

    It may hurt people taking advantage of spousal coverage, as the law does not require group plans to cover spouses, or make the coverage affordable.

  4. Donns says:

    I have a unique situation. I am a widow now for 10 years (I am 45) and until last fall living on SSI. I am not required to file taxes since my only income is SSI. The down side of that is I do not qualify for Obama care. Last fall I started a t-shirt business(funded by my mother) and still way in the red. I do not have health insurance, do not qualify for state assistance. What would you recommend????

  5. Celise says:

    Although I am nowhere near close to becoming self-employed, I do think about stuff like this because it’ll be part of that “how much do you want to make?” process. I would LOVE to have the same coverage I do right now with my FT job. It’s Cigna, and for the first time EVER, my office visit copay to my naturopathic doctor is only $40! All the other insurances I’ve had (including when I was on my hubby’s for a couple of years), I’ve always had to pay out of pocket. And those visits were always over $100. That’s something else I’ll have to think about if/when I become self-employed. My hubby’s plan sucks, so I will definitely have to factor in the healthcare thing myself. Thanks for this great post! I’m going to bookmark it. 🙂

  6. Iris Bonet says:

    Thank you so much for this information. Really soon I’m planning on becoming a full time freelancer, but our insurance is through my FT job right now. Health insurance is the part I’m most concerned about because my husband is a type 1 diabetic (since he was 9) and it’s really important to me that he’s covered since insulin is VERY expensive. I’m definitely saving this. (Never knew about Healthcare Sharing Ministry!!)

  7. Marty Heu says:

    I personally have Christian Healthcare Ministries (CHM). They offer plans starting at $45 go up to $150 for the gold plan.

    The gold plan has a maximum of $500 out of pocket expenses and they will be waived if you can show that you got self-pay discount (which is easy to do). I went to the ER last December $4K in bills, when I told them I am out of pocket they told me the flat rate is $450. Because I could show the bill was reduced to $450 (so $3,500 discount) I ended up paying nothing at all out of pocket (ok I had to pay the $450 up front).

    My wife gave birth to our son, the complete pregnancy (docs, pre and post, hospital, bloodwork, medicine, tests) was completely covered by CHM. In the end I paid 0 because we obtained self pay discount. Hope this helps everyone. Have a blessed day!

    • Parrish says:

      This sounds great. please explain to me the process with the hospital bill.
      1. when you went to the hospital did they except your CHM insurance?
      2. also when you go to the Dr. do they accept your CHM insurance or do you have to pay up front and get reimbursed. ?

  8. Leigh says:

    The article was helpful, but I’m not sure about my situation. I had a shoulder injury at my job in 2013. My bosses sent me to a doctor for awhile, but in 2014, they slashed me to 20 hours and canceled my health insurance (although they helped me get on the new ACA). I had other health issues, so I left my job of 12 years and took online courses to greatly upgrade my tech and business skills. I cashed out my pension (just before that company got hacked and private info was compromised).

    I thought I was smart, taking care of myself and making myself more marketable, even doing an occasional freelance writing job, but I was in for a hard fall. My newly developed skills got me nowhere and I had to scramble to find any job. I didn’t have a job in 2015 and was told by an accountant not to file taxes for that year. That made it tricky to get back into the ACA, but I did. I got a job earlier this year, but my insurance agent told me I didn’t make enough this year and I would have to pay back the entire subsidy, which I can’t afford. I’m desperately looking for options on this (I live in Texas with no Medicaid expansion). I’m even thinking of getting legal help.

    I’m afraid to go without health insurance, even though the time off helped me eliminate my prediabetes and blood pressure problems. Sorry to be so windy, but I’m losing a lot of sleep over this. Thanks for letting me express myself.

  9. Misha says:

    How do you handle the following two problems:
    1) good doctors do not take any insurance except the ones which are only sold to large companies.
    2) if you do not have insurance (self-insure) almost no doctor will give you a price upfront and after the fact they can give you the price which may be 5-10 times higher than they charge to the customers with an insurance.

  10. There are a few other amazing options that are available. I am an agent with USHEALTH Advisors can offer affordable plans that were originally built for small businesses and entrepreneurs, that are available to individuals and families as well. If you have any questions feel free to reach out. 931.801.8351

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