If you’re thinking about becoming a freelancer or you’ve been doing it a while, there’s a good chance you have questions about freelancer health insurance.
In this guide, I’ll share everything you need to know about healthcare for freelancers in the US, including how much it costs, your options, and tips for maintaining good health.
Freelancer healthcare can be a challenging topic. In fact, many people steer clear of becoming freelancers because they appreciate the comfort of getting health insurance through their employer. The good news is that healthcare for freelancers works similarly and doesn’t necessarily cost more, contrary to popular belief.
Keep reading for all your questions answered about health insurance for freelancers.
Read more: 10 Essential Freelancer Tips for Beginners
How much is insurance for freelancers?
Today’s average monthly cost of health insurance in the United States is $541. However, this number varies and often changes. Monthly insurance premiums can be much lower or higher depending on what kind of coverage you choose and other factors, including your location and income.
Options for Freelancer Health Insurance in the US
While freelancer health insurance can feel scary, there are many options. Whether you want to rest easy knowing you have optimal coverage, or you’re trying to avoid breaking the bank with the lowest monthly premium possible, there’s something that fits most freelancers’ needs.
These are the top options for freelancer health insurance in the US:
- Health Insurance with the Affordable Care Act or Healthcare Marketplace
- Health Insurance with the Freelancers Union
- Join Your Parent’s or Spouse’s Insurance Plan
- Catastrophic Health Insurance Plan or Accident Coverage
- Travel Health Insurance
- Health Savings Account (HSA)
Health Insurance with the Affordable Care Act or Healthcare Marketplace
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, was enacted in 2010 and offers a healthcare marketplace for US citizens to purchase health insurance. This is available to many US citizens, regardless of employment. If you happen to make too much money to qualify for the ACA, you still have the option to use the Healthcare Marketplace.
The ACA offers tax credits to some people who work in the US. These subsidies limit the monthly premium amount for many people. To qualify, you must be living in the US, be a US citizen or legal resident, can’t be currently incarcerated, and your income can’t be more than 400% of the federal poverty level.
Note: There’s an open enrollment period for this option. It usually runs from early November until mid-January each year. You may be able to enrol outside of this period if you have a Qualifying Life Event.
Many people, including myself, avoid this health insurance option because healthcare in the US isn’t all that affordable for them. However, it’s important to mention that if you work for an employer, you likely have a similar monthly premium taken from your paycheck. Naturally, it feels like more when you’re submitting your own payment each month as a freelancer.
Health Insurance with the Freelancers Union
The Freelancers Union is an organization that represents millions of independent workers in the United States. They offer many excellent resources for freelancers, including health insurance benefits. With that said, their plans only cover residents of New York, California, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Texas, Georgia, Florida, Colorado, and North Carolina.
Like the previous option, an open enrollment period runs from early November to mid-January. And, you may be able to enrol outside of this timeframe if you have a Qualifying Life Event.
Join Your Parent’s or Spouse’s Insurance Plan
The easiest way to obtain freelancer health insurance is often to join your parents’ or spouse’s insurance plan. You can join your parents’ plan if you’re younger than 26 years old. If you’re married, there’s a good chance you can be added to your spouse’s plan.
While this is usually an excellent option, it’s good to also look at the other alternatives. It may be more affordable or expensive to go another route.
Catastrophic Health Insurance Plan or Accident Coverage
A catastrophic health insurance plan or accident coverage isn’t your typical health insurance. These plans usually have low monthly premiums but a high deductible.
There are some advantages and drawbacks to having this type of plan. However, I’ve found this to be a great option as a freelancer. In fact, this is the route I’ve taken for healthcare coverage.
Catastrophic plans or accident coverages don’t typically cover minor health needs like a doctor’s office visit or medication. Some plans, like mine, offer reimbursement for at least a portion of your annual check-up.
Because I’m in good health and rarely see a doctor, this plan works for me. However, if something significant arises that, for example, requires a hospital stay, this plan will offer some financial assistance.
I personally have accident coverage with Colonial Life. However, many insurance providers offer these kinds of plans. You can also find catastrophic health plans with the Healthcare Marketplace.
Travel Health Insurance
Travel health insurance might be the right fit for you if you’re a digital nomad who moves around. Travel insurance can cover various situations, including medical emergencies, natural disasters, lost or stolen items, and other unexpected inconveniences. We recommend SafteyWing.
There are many options for travel insurance, some of which offer full-coverage healthcare. To learn more, check out this guide to the best travel and health insurance for digital nomads.
Health Savings Account (HSA)
A Health Savings Account (HSA) is worth considering whether you have health insurance coverage or not. This type of savings account allows you to set aside pre-taxed money, meaning you don’t have to pay taxes on the money that goes into your HSA.
The money in your HSA can be used for unexpected medical expenses, including copays, deductibles, and medication. If you have a traditional health insurance plan, an HSA can also be helpful since insurance usually still requires you to pay some expenses.
Tips on Healthcare and Looking After Your Health as a Freelancer
No matter what route you take for obtaining freelancer health insurance, it’s always helpful to better understand healthcare and how to look after your health. Here are some tips I find to be beneficial as a freelancer.
You may be able to write off healthcare.
This trick has saved me a lot of money over the years! Each year when you pay your taxes, you can write off healthcare expenses and save money on how much you owe in taxes. Healthcare expenses you can write off include insurance premiums, copay, medication, etc.
You may qualify for Medicaid.
Medicaid is a federal and state program that provides health coverage to eligible, low-income US citizens. While many people don’t qualify, it’s always worth looking into if you have a low income.
Maintain a healthy work-life balance.
You can avoid some potential health issues when you have a healthy work-life balance. Work-life balance looks different for everyone, and sometimes you spend more time working or more time on your personal life. This depends on your goals.
In any case, there are some habits you can implement to ensure you’re living a healthy lifestyle.
- Create an enjoyable morning routine.
- Have a designated workspace.
- Avoid distractions during your working hours.
- Take breaks throughout the day.
- Follow a schedule for work and free time. This can be as rigid or flexible as you’d like.
- Make time for a social life.
- Take time off work – at least 1-2 days a week completely away from work.
- Don’t work in spaces meant for relaxation, like your living room or bedroom.
Make time for exercise.
Exercise is essential for maintaining good health, especially for freelancers. Many freelancers work from home and don’t move around as much as they might if working a traditional 9-5.
The best way to stick to exercising is by opting for activities you enjoy and doing them regularly. Some ideas include walks around your neighbourhood, running at the local park, and YouTube fitness classes.
Follow a sleep schedule.
Being well-rested is one thing that keeps me feeling good mentally, physically, and emotionally. This might be one of the most forgotten ways to maintain good health. In fact, many studies show that a lack of proper sleep leads to health issues.
Usually, 7-9 hours of sleep is recommended. But, everyone is different. Find a sleep routine and schedule that makes you feel your best and stick to it.
Stick to a healthy diet.
Again, a healthy diet is different for everyone. With that said, everyone can benefit from eating clean foods and having a balanced diet that’s satisfying and nutritious.
Along with eating healthy, hydration is just as important. I always have a glass of water on my desk while I’m working. I keep it fun by adding fruit to my water for flavour sometimes!
Check out these tips to learn more about staying healthy as a digital nomad or freelancer.
I hope this guide has helped you feel better about healthcare for freelancers and has inspired you to work towards optimal health on your freelance journey!