You did it. You pulled the trigger and became your own boss. No more long morning commutes. No more listening to that middle manager drone on about hitting your quotas any longer. You became a freelancer.
You choose your projects, and then you set the hours. Want to work in the evenings? You can now. While there are many benefits to owning your freelancing business, there are some drawbacks, too.
For example, salaried-employees get access to benefits from their employer. One of the main benefits is health insurance. Employees have easy access to reduced-rate health insurance within the company group plan.
As a freelancer, you’ll be left on your own to find the perfect plan for you and your family. Paying for health insurance by yourself can be pricey, but for the vast majority of us – it’s not optional. You need to be covered in case of a medical emergency.
So, What does a Freelancer do?
First and foremost, you must get coverage. Don’t think health insurance is optional. By law, everyone must have some form of health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. As such, you must get care, or you’ll face a hefty fine when tax season rolls around.
To start looking for coverage, head over to HealthCare.Gov. The site hosts all the available health plans in your area that are available under Obamacare. While the ACA may be under attack from politicians, it’s still in play for at least another year.
5 Health Insurance Tips For Freelancers
Once you have coverage, you can use the tips below to make the most of your health insurance as a freelancer:
- Use Your Schedule to Your Benefit
When you do need medical services, your freelancing schedule should offer a benefit. Instead of going at peak hours, the flexibility in your schedule will allow you to book appointments at off-times.
This means less hassle, fewer waits, and an overall better experience at the doctor. For most medical facilities, the time right after lunch between Tuesday and Thursday seems to be slow. Think 2-4 PM.
- Utilize Free Preventative Care
The vast majority of health insurance plans offer free preventative care. This means you have access to an annual physical, contraceptives, screenings, and vaccinations for free. A huge value considering the cost of an annual physical without insurance is upwards of $200.
If you’re freelancing and on a budget regarding health care, you can save time and money by utilizing these included benefits from your insurance plan.
- Other Coverage Options
Many freelancers have decided to go another direction. While having no coverage simply isn’t an option in the United States, many individuals have decided to forgo health insurance in favor of a different option.
Some people have found great value in a health care sharing ministry plan. These policies are technically not health insurance plans, but can be used to offset major medical expenses while ensuring you avoid tax penalties.
- Always Ask Questions
Any time you’re in the doctor’s office or hospital, make sure you ask a lot of questions. If you’re a freelancer, there’s a decent chance you opted for a cheaper insurance policy. That means you need to ask questions and ensure you’re getting the cheapest treatment option available.
Declining non-vital equipment or buying it outside the doctor’s office can save you a lot of money. Asking your doctor about generic medications instead of name brand can also keep money in your pocket when dealing with health insurance as a freelancer.
- Use Your Resources
When you’re building a business up, money can be tight. This means even wasting gas on a trip to the doctor can be costly. We get that. Luckily, there are many ways to save by using the resources found in your health insurance policy.
Many coverage providers offer online services like bill pay, appointment booking, and 24/7 help lines. Others provide services where you can simply pick up the phone and speak to a real doctor whenever you need to – at no extra cost. Prescriptions can be refilled over the phone, as well.
Health Insurance For the Freelancer
As we begin to shift to the “freelancer’s economy” of today, it’s important to keep health insurance in mind as you transition. If you’ve recently become a freelancer, the most important thing is to make sure you have coverage.
Once you have some type of coverage, use the five tips above to get the most out of your policy. Health insurance is expensive, especially for freelancers, so using these tips and tricks will ensure you get the most bang for your health insurance buck.