How to Find Health Insurance When You’re Self-Employed
One of the top reasons people hesitate to start a business is the fear of losing health insurance.
Being self-employed has its ups and downs, and finding affordable and reliable health insurance coverage is a big concern for many. Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs go without coverage which is a huge risk that could lead to financial devastation.
The Affordable Care Act is designed to offer stronger consumer protections and new coverage options, but doesn’t fully roll out until 2014. In the meantime, here are some key ways to find healthcare coverage for you and your family.
- Contact Your State. Maryland offers the Maryland Health Insurance Plan (MHIP), which works like a state and federally funded program for individual plan coverage. Check with your state to see if they offer insurance programs for small business owners.
- Use HealthCare.gov as a Resource. Use the Find Insurance Options link to identify which private insurance plans, public programs and community services are available to you.
- Contact Reputable Insurance Companies. Companies like Aetna, UnitedHealthcare, and Kaiser Permanente offer affordable insurance options. Be aware that some do not cover pre-existing conditions, and your acceptance is subject to medical underwriting.
- Sign up for COBRA. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, to be eligible for COBRA coverage, you must have been enrolled in your employer’s health plan when you worked and the health plan must continue to be in effect for active employees. Coverage under COBRA is often very expensive since you pay the entire cost, plus a possible 2 percent administrative fee.
- Join a Professional Group.You are not alone. Local professional groups may offer health insurance to people in similar situations.
- Check with your local Chamber of Commerce, which may offer group health insurance plans for members.
- Professional associations like the National Association for the Self-Employed and the Small Business Service Bureau offer health insurance coverage.
- The Freelancers Union promotes the interests of independent workers through advocacy, education, and services. Enter your zip code to find available coverage near you.
- Work Part-Time. Companies like Target, Starbucks, and Whole Foods offer health insurance to part-time employees. Coverage can vary and is based on the numbers of hours worked per week.
Do your research and find a healthcare plan that works for you and your own individual situation. Be wary of coverage that seems too good to be true and/or extremely inexpensive. Research the company to identify any complaints by checking with your local state insurance commissioner’s office before you submit any personal information.