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December 15, 2021 is the last day to enroll in a plan for 2022!
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Self Employed? Here's What You Need to Know About Health Insurance
If you’re looking to become an Uber driver, or if you’ve just started doing rideshare, delivery, or other gig economy work, you may be wondering how to get health insurance as an independent contractor.
Uber drivers pay their taxes on gross earnings classifying them as self-employed individuals. This means it is up to them to take care of their own health insurance needs.
The good news is that there are many options available, and we’ll go over those in this article.
- November 1, 2021: Open Enrollment started — first day to enroll, re-enroll, or change a 2022 insurance plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace®.
- December 15, 2021: Last day to enroll in or change plans for 2022 coverage that starts January 1, 2022.
- January 1, 2022: 2022 coverage starts, if you’ve enrolled by December 15, 2021 and paid your first premium.
- January 15, 2022: Last day to enroll in or change plans for 2022 coverage. After this date, you can enroll or change plans only if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.
- February 1, 2022: 2022 coverage starts if you enrolled by January 15, 2022 and you’ve paid your first premium.
What is open enrollment and how does it affect my health insurance coverage?
Open enrollment refers to a certain time of the year when you’re allowed to change, start, or stop through a health insurance plan. You essentially sign up towards the end of the year for the health insurance coverage that you want for the up coming year.
How to Find a Good Health Insurance Plan for Your Budget and Needs
As open enrollment for qualifying marketplace plans begins, people who are self-employed need to know what options are out there regarding health insurance for freelancers.
So what do freelancers do for health insurance? Those who are not insured through an employer can use the Health Insurance Marketplace to purchase private health insurance for themselves and their family members.
After filling out your Marketplace application, you’ll find out what savings, tax credits, and low-cost coverage you qualify for based on your income and household size. Then, you’ll be able to choose a plan that fits your needs.
Types of Health Insurance Plans for Self Employed Individuals and Families
Before choosing a plan, it’s essential to know what each type of plan provides so that you can pick the best one for your budget and health insurance needs. In the marketplace, you’ll find that metals categorize the programs offered to you. These are different levels of these plans based on the amount you will pay out of pocket.
- Bronze Plans provide the lowest monthly premiums but highest out-of-pocket costs for medical care while guaranteeing coverage for essential health benefits, such as preventive services and maternity care. Bronze plans are good for generally healthy people that don’t expect to go to the doctor much, if at all during the year, but they’re not recommended if you have ongoing health issues because you may have to pay your medical costs yourself until the deductible is met.
- Silver Plans are like gold plans in that you’ll pay more each month than with bronze but less than gold. For most silver projects, you’ll still be required to pay 40% of your total health care expenses. Thus, you should have a solid savings account. The silver plan is often a good choice for generally healthy people but expects some visits to the doctor during the year.
- Gold Plans will usually have the highest premium payments but generally have lower deductibles and copayments, so they cover a larger share of your medical costs after meeting a deductible compared to silver plans. This option is best if you expect to need significant health care services in addition to regular preventive care (exams, shots, etc.), and it’s a good choice for people who have ongoing health issues.
- Platinum Plans will have the highest monthly premiums but will cover at least 90% of your medical costs after meeting a deductible, which is the highest coverage you can get. This is usually the best option if you expect to need frequent or extensive medical care because you’ll pay less out of pocket when you do.
Terms to Know
There will be different types of plans within the metal categories that you should consider and a few terms that will be important to know when choosing your plan. These factors will affect which providers will be covered under your insurance based on whether they are in-network or not.
- Coinsurance: This is the number of medical bills you are responsible for paying. You may see it as 80/20 or 60/40, for instance. An 80/20 would mean that you pay 20% of the costs, and the insurance company would be 80%.
- Copayment: This is the money you pay for covered services. For example, if a $35 copay for office visits, then that is what you would pay for the appointment.
- Deductible: This is the amount you pay out of pocket each year before the insurer kicks in for their part.
- Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO): They are very similar to an HMO, but there is a national network of providers instead of only geographically.
- Health Maintenance Organization (HMO): HMOs usually cover only services an in-network provider provides and require referrals from a primary care physician to seek specialist care.
- Health Savings Account (HSA): Set aside earnings pre-tax in an HSA, a type of savings account, and later use those funds to pay for deductibles, copayments, coinsurance, over the counter (OTC) drugs and medical devices, and other approved healthcare expenses. HSA funds typically cannot be used to pay premiums. You can use funds from an HSA at any time, but you must be currently enrolled in an HSA eligible plan to contribute to the account.
- High-deductible Health Plan (HDHP): These are also known as catastrophic health plans. They typically have the lowest premiums but high out-of-pocket limits and deductibles. Often this works best with a health savings account or HSA.
- In-Network Care: Care provided by a medical service provider that participates with your insurer. When a provider is in-network, they agree upon rates with your insurer. You can’t be charged more than those agreed-upon rates. Payment for a covered service from an in-network provider counts toward meeting your deductible.
- Out-of-Network Care: Care provided by a medical service provider that doesn’t participate with your insurer. They do not have negotiated rates with your insurer. Meaning they could charge more than your insurance company pays for a service. If the out-of-network provider charges more, it’s up to you to cover the remainder of the cost, and only a portion of the payment may count toward your deductible.
- Out of Pocket Costs: You’ll need to be familiar with a few insurance words when comparing out-of-pocket costs. They are deductible, copayments, and coinsurance.
- Point of Service Plan (POS): This is a version of an HMO plan that allows some coverage for out-of-network doctors if you’re in-network primary care doctor provides a referral.
- Preferred Provider Organization (PPO): These plans have the most flexibility regarding what is covered. But they come at a higher premium. The benefits are not needing a referral from a primary care doctor, and you can see any provider at any time. They also have an in-network set of doctors, but you can still see out-of-network providers.
The information shown here is a summary of benefits for informational purposes only. Review the official plan documents (such as evidence of coverage, plan brochure, or insurance policy) for a detailed description of coverage benefits, limitations, and exclusions. Only the terms and conditions of coverage benefits listed in the policy are binding. The benefits listed may be contingent on your use of physicians, hospitals, and services within the specific insurance company’s provider network. The Copayment, Deductible, and Coinsurance amounts are your share of the costs for covered benefits. These amounts are subject to change. Each insurance carrier may have unique Notices, Disclaimers, and Fees. The quotes or rates shown are estimates only and will vary based on age, location, and other factors. Your premium is subject to change based on the optional benefits you selected, if any, and other relevant factors, such as changes in rates that take effect before your coverage start date. The insurance company always determines your actual premium. Insurance companies reserve the right to change the terms of a policy upon proper notification.
Common mistakes independent contractors make with their healthcare coverage
Not Having Health Insurance
The biggest mistake is not having any health insurance. You don’t want to chance it and find yourself in a bad situation with an accident or contracting something like cancer.
Is it worth the risk not to have insurance? There are many stories of how someone got an illness or was in a bad accident, and without having health insurance, they struggled with mounting bills. And suppose you’re embarking on an Uber career. In that case, this is something to think about now before accidents happen because it can be too late to find affordable coverage once something unexpected occurs. Freelancers Union health insurance is made specifically to cater towards freelancers and may be a good option to consider when browsing plans.
Underestimating Cost of Care
Another common mistake is underestimating the cost of care. When setting your out-of-pocket limits, you want to be sure it will cover what you anticipate or need. Everyone wants low monthly premiums, but you need to consider how much your plan will cover if something goes wrong.
Not asking for help when figuring all this stuff out happens too often. There are plenty of resources online that can walk you through what plans offer what coverage and at which costs for each permutation of services someone might need, whether it’s mental health, dental, or vision coverage, for example.
Know What You Are Paying For
Signing up for health insurance coverage doesn’t mean you won’t still pay money for services, and knowing what those costs are, and their limits are essential.
Yes, it is annoying to look at your insurance plan’s small print. But it is well worth the time and energy you spend doing so because if anything does go wrong with your health or that of a loved one, this will be where you get help.
Questions to Consider:
There are some questions you can ask yourself to help guide choosing the right health insurance plan. Asking yourself these questions before you sign up for a health insurance plan will help ensure you have the best coverage possible.
- What are my out-of-pocket costs when I need care?
- How much will services cost me each time I use them?
- Do I have copayments for specific services? If so, who do I see/ what diagnoses do they treat/in which facilities can they serve me?
- Am I required to pay coinsurance after meeting my deductible?
- How much will my coinsurance be for specific services?
- What are the out-of-pocket limits on my plan?
- Are the services I am more likely to need to be covered in my plan?
- Are any medications I need to be covered in this plan?
- Do I need mental health services? If so, are they covered under my plan?
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Who should you contact with questions about your application or enrollment process?
A: You can find help through a local broker or submit a contact form directly on the government health care website.
Q: When can I enroll in a plan and what are the deadlines?
A: Open enrollment starts November 1st and ends January 15th, 2022. This period has been extended by 30 days to give more uninsured individuals the opportunity to apply. During this open enrollment period, you can compare plans from many carriers and see which one is best suited for your needs.
Q: What happens if I miss the open enrollment deadline?
A: If you don’t meet the deadlines, you will have to wait until next year’s open enrollment period before signing up for health insurance with a carrier. The only time you can sign up for a plan outside of open enrollment is if you have a qualifying life event. This includes moving, getting married or divorced, having a child, or adopting a child, losing your job, and others.
Q: What if I am offered insurance through my spouse’s employer?
A: If you qualify to be added to a spouse’s health insurance plan through their employer, it is usually a good idea to take advantage of those benefits. Health insurance plans offered through an employer are almost always more affordable than what you would qualify for as a self-employed individual. If you can get a better method through your spouse’s coverage or available at a more affordable price than what you would qualify for on your own, this is usually a better option.
Q: What things will not be covered by my plan but should still be considered when considering coverage options?
A: It is essential to have a good dental plan and vision plan in addition to medical coverage, especially if you are prone to cavities and gum disease or have had vision issues in the past. These health conditions can often go hand-in-hand with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and many other chronic conditions.
Q: What if I have pre-existing conditions? How will that affect my application process and premiums?
A: If you have a pre-existing condition, you will still be able to apply as it is against the law for health insurance companies to refuse coverage due to a pre-existing condition.
Q: Does my age affect the type of coverage I can get?
A: Your age does determine what types of plans you can apply for and the premiums that a carrier might charge you. However, under the Affordable Care Act, there are no longer any lifetime maximums or annual coverage caps on essential health benefits, so it doesn’t matter how old you are as far as overall coverage goes.
Q: Can I stay on my parent’s insurance plan?
A: If you are under 26, then in most cases, you can remain on your parents’ insurance plan. Once you turn 26 you will qualify for the special enrollment period which allows you to enroll at any time of the year.
Other Ways to Save on Self Employed Health Insurance
The programs below are not health insurance, but they offer steep discounts for uninsured or underinsured individuals and families.
Sesame Care helps patients without health insurance find high-quality, affordable health care by connecting you directly with their network of providers. See upfront, discounted prices, and know the cost before booking. Their marketplace acts as a user-friendly tool to find doctors, specialists, labs and prescriptions, and more. Users can save even more money by joining their membership for $7/month, which gives special discounts and other affordable benefits. Learn More
Careington Dental is a network of dental practices throughout the United States that serves over 1 million members. Careington works with thousands of dentists to provide high-quality care at an affordable cost. Members have access to discounts on cleanings, fillings, root canals, crowns, and more through Careington’s affordable plans for families or individuals. Learn More
Health Savings Accounts are a great way to save money for future medical expenses. Lively offers a health savings account that allows you to put aside up to $3,600 for individual coverage and $7,200 for family coverage of pre-tax dollars into their plan which can then be used on any qualifying healthcare expense. Learn More
Avibra offers $15,000 of no-cost insurance coverage by taking wellness quizzes, reading articles, and more. Regular check-ins keep your coverage active. They are a life insurance company that aims to help improve users’ wellbeing by educating people about living a good life from their career, community, finances, physical and mental health, and relationships. Avibra then rewards users with increased life insurance coverage based on the good habits they have built through using their platform. Learn More
VSP (Vision Service Plan) offers affordable vision coverage to individuals and families. VSP provides eye exams, glasses, contacts, and LASIK surgery through its network of providers who offer discounts on the cost of procedures. Learn More
PersonalLabs is a clinical lab testing company that helps people save money on health screenings and tests for conditions like cholesterol, diabetes, thyroid disorders, vitamin deficiencies, STD’s and more. Learn More
Talkspace is the most accessible and affordable way to get ongoing, one-on-one counseling from a licensed therapist. Talkspace aims to improve people’s health and happiness through regular sessions with licensed therapists who support issues like stress management, mental wellbeing, depression treatment, and more. Learn More
If you are considering becoming an Uber driver, now is the time to make sure that you have health insurance as a freelancer and that your coverage will protect you in case of accidents or illness.
If this sounds intimidating to do yourself and would rather not spend hours researching all these terms (and hoping to find accurate information), let us know! Our team of experts works closely with companies just like yours every day – partnering together to create stellar policies. Let us offer you an introduction and point you in the right direction!
This article is for informational purposes only and staging-ridesharegurucom.kinsta.cloud does not make any guarantees to its accuracy as each state’s insurance situation is unique. We recommend that you contact a licensed insurance agent for the most accurate information regarding your coverage.
Sarah Ware (CISR) holds licenses in Property and Casualty as well as Life and Health insurance and has worked in the insurance industry for over 10 years.