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How to Get Health Insurance If You're Self Employed

Health insurance is a hot button topic in the United States these days, with vehement opposition and contentious debate. While the status of the reform efforts are still uncertain, and the prospect of universal health care is a thin one, there are ways to get health insurance even if you're part of the growing number of self employed or freelance workers. And you definitely need health insurance: the single biggest cause of personal bankruptcy is health care related and the of people without coverage are the single biggest piece of the bankruptcy pie.

Most people get their insurance through their jobs, where the large pools of customers give a bargaining advantage to customers that insurance companies can't ignore. This is a good bet for the insurance company as well, since they can spread the risks of payouts across a large number of clients in order to ensure they break even. If you're a freelance worker or self-employed you don't have those advantages, which can really increase the cost of any plan you qualify for. There are some rays of hope however, starting with the introduction of the COBRA plan in 1986.

COBRA stands for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, a bill passed through congress to provide some support and relief for independent workers looking for health insurance. COBRA was an act that provided health insurance to unemployed or retired workers that also applies to self employed workers. COBRA is a government health insurance plan that provided some limited coverage, but isn't particularly well considered, with high premiums and generally ineffective administration. In lieu of a real general health insurance policy produced by the government, it won't meet all your needs, so you're more likely to have to look into private options for real health insurance.

There are some HMO (Health Maintenance Organizations) that offer local plans for self employed workers at reduced costs. HMOs limit the doctors and procedures they cover to reduce their costs but some insurance is better than none. Being regional, they're difficult to speak of in a general sense, but you can look into them at your local chamber of commerce.

There's also NASE, the National Association for the Self Employed, which has several special plans for freelancers. These policies are provided through the MEGA Life and Health Insurance Company, and while they're national they aren't the most comprehensive of plans. A related option is the Freelancer's Union, a quasi-union designed to offer protections to freelance and self employed workers though group leveraging. These options depend on the state you're in and they offer health as well as other types of insurance.

If you are of the Christian faith, there is also a unique health insurance alternative called Medi-Share. Technically it is not insurance, but provides much of the same coverage at a small cost to the customer.

Some states, like New York and Connecticut, have state health insurance plans open to freelancers. While they tend to offer effective and cheap care, they're naturally limited to the state they're offered in and this can complicate injuries or illnesses that occur when traveling or if you're not in one of the participating states. Because many of these options are state-dependent, you should check out your state's insurance offices to find out what applies to you and what the coverage types are.

Finally there's the premium option of just buying an individual health care plan. These vary from state to state as well, and without anyone else behind you they're often more expensive than other options. Some insurance companies have special plans for the self employed so you should check with the companies in you area to find the right option for you.

Bob writes about getting out of debt, saving and making money, and other personal finance topics at Check out his review of Zander Term Life Insurance.

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Tony said...

When you are looking for health insurance or a private medical insurance plan, to ensure you get the best possible cover for all the major medical conditions and cancer it is important to consult with a specialist health insurance intermediary.

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