Options Available For Health Insurance Self Employed
In these tough economic times, lots of workers who have been laid off have opted to start their own businesses rather than seek new corporate jobs
. While this choice can be enormously satisfying and empowering, it comes with significant disadvantages, and one of them is finding health insurance self employed alternatives.
It's not impossible to find health care insurance if you're self employed. The Employee Benefits Research Institute found that 2.6 million independent contractors purchase individuals policies, while another 3.5 million that own businesses with employees get coverage through their company's group policy. However, there are still 3.5 million self-employed workers who go without health insurance, risking economic ruin in the case of a catastrophic illness. Self-employed workers can lower their risks by considering the following options.
For starters, think about keeping the current health insurance you have through your employer. Unless you're fired for incompetence or negligence, you have the right under COBRA to retain your group policy for up to 18 months after you leave employment. COBRA stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986, and it covers any business that employs 20 or more people. So be sure to ask about applying for COBRA before you leave a job to strike out on your own.
Even with this option, be prepared for sticker shock. Self-employed people must pay full cost of the coverage, instead of the average 28 percent of insurance costs paid by employees, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Check with your company's human resources department or the U. S. Department of Labor for details on COBRA coverage.
Another way for a self-employed worker to get decent health insurance is to sign on to their employed spouse's policy. In almost every case, getting coverage through a spouse's employer runs a lot less than virtually every other option, especially COBRA.
If a spouse doesn't have health insurance through their work, it's necessary to find coverage on your own. There are two ways to approach individual health insurance: engage an insurance agent, or do it yourself. The National Association of Health Underwriters can provide a list of reputable insurance agents in your state, but don't take the list at face value. Meet with several agents, see how well they work with you, and then compare their plans and prices head-to-head. To go the DIY route, check out Internet websites that will compare health care plans from various insurance companies operating in your state. Once again, look over several companies before deciding.
In either case, don't sign anything or pay any money until you check out your preferred provider with the state insurance commissioner's officer. The cheapest health insurance is no bargain if the provider has a history of poor claims service for its customers.
Finally, don't forget that even though you work for yourself, you're not alone in the marketplace when it comes for health insurance self employed alternatives. Entrepreneurs have discovered that by joining forces in associations and organizations, they can offer insurance companies large, ready-made markets that spread the risk. Lowering risk is what lowers premiums when it comes to any kind of insurance, and especially health insurance. People who work alone may want to join the National Association of the Self-Employed. Business owners who have employees may benefit from the National Association of Professional Employer Associations. Either one can provide more information online about their services.
by: The Health Insurance Group
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