Despite the fact that we expect 50% of the workforce to be freelance by 2020, healthcare in the US has not been designed with us in mind. For all of its faults, the ACA has made things better, but we’re still a long way from ideal. I want to lay out all of the existing workable health insurance options, skipping the lousy ones like COBRA and ‘hoping you don’t get sick’.
Affordable Care Act
The vast majority of full-time freelancers will find the ACA, or Obamacare as it is both affectionately and disagreeably known, as their best bet. Each state runs its own marketplace and both private and non-profit insurers can be accessed through this portal. The plans are typically sorted into categories- bronze, silver, and gold- so consumers can more easily compare plans that meet the level of care they desire.
The ACA is being, well, sabotaged, so depending on where you live you may not have much choice of plans and/or they might all suck. As of right now, it’s still shambling along, though, so you should definitely give it a look.
Sponsored on Someone Else’s Plan
Obviously, this isn’t an option for everyone, but it’s often the best choice if it’s available to you.
If you’re under 26, the ACA rules allow you to stay on your parents’ insurance plan. I understand this relying on your parents is distasteful to many young professionals gaining their independence, but it might save you some serious cash and nothing is stopping you from covering your own premium.
Spouses and domestic partners can also often gain the benefits of their partner’s health insurance. You don’t always need to be married, either. Although I am not married, my fiancee’s employer offers an informal ‘domestic partner’ the ability to be sponsored on one of their plans if they cohabitate and share finances. It’s not all that much cheaper or better than my ACA plan but the administration is much better (although still not good).
Certain groups, chambers of commerce, industry groups, unions, will offer insurance plans to their members. The availability and quality of these plans vary dramatically, so be sure to read up on the details before jumping into anything.
Healthcare Sharing Ministries
Healthcare Sharing Ministries are rather unique and have only come into prominence since the ACA took effect. They are a different way to pool your money for healthcare and may cover certain things that ACA plans don’t. You need to thoroughly research your prospective plan though, because they also may not cover some of what you may consider fairly basic costs and some even require you to follow certain religious rules.
People in the US still go bankrupt from medical bills so it behooves you to get a safety net in place, even if it’s just a catastrophe plan. It doesn’t matter if you’re healthy, injuries and unexpected illnesses can take down anyone.