By P.J. Kaiser
It won’t come as news to anybody when I say that some people in the U.S. have difficulty getting medical insurance. I’m lucky because my husband has a full-time job, and his medical plan provides excellent coverage for our family. Many freelancers and entrepreneurs aren’t as lucky.
At a recent luncheon for Metro Moms Consulting Network (a professional networking organization for moms in Hoboken, N.J.), one of our members asked a question about medical insurance that had all of us scratching our heads:
If you are in a situation where you can’t be added to a spouse’s policy and aren’t eligible for Cobra insurance, how can you, as a freelancer or entrepreneur, obtain medical insurance? For example, what if you and your partner are not married or if your spouse works for a company that doesn’t offer medical insurance? There are many reasons you might need to get medical insurance on your own.
I did some research via social media (Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus), and I enlisted the help of freelance professionals in my network. We came up with four solutions you should consider:
- Health savings accounts. Established in 2003, health savings accounts work like flexible savings accounts, but the money rolls over if it is not spent. HSAs can be used in conjunction with a high-deductible medical plan if you’re relatively young and healthy, and you anticipate a minimum of health-care expenditures. With a high-deductible medical plan, you may be able to negotiate more favorable rates from health-care providers since they are being paid directly by you. For more information, you can refer to the U.S. Department of Treasury’s website.
- Esurance. Esurance provides online quotes from a variety of medical insurance providers, providing a quick and easy way to compare coverage options. The company also provide other types of insurance.
- Professional associations. Some professional organizations offer discounted medical insurance to their members. Two examples are the Freelancers Union and the National Association for the Self-Employed. Group rates are generally more attractive than an individual policy, so this might be an option worth investigating.
- State programs. Most states offer low-cost insurance plans through the health department. Eligibility is typically limited to parents with modest incomes who do not qualify for Medicaid. New Jersey’s program is called NJ Family Care.
With all of these options, you’ll need to investigate how they compare in terms of cost and coverage for your specific situation. If you have experience with any of these options or have a tip for another option to consider, please leave a comment!
P.J. Kaiser is a stay-at-home mom to her two young children. She writes fiction and nonfiction between loads of laundry. She is an editor at Metro Moms Network, and her short fiction has been published in various anthologies, including Best of Friday Flash, Volume 1 and Nothing But Flowers: Tales of Post-Apocalyptic Love. She can be found at her blog, Inspired by Real Life.
This article was originally published on Oct. 24, 2011, at Metromoms.net.