More than one third (36 percent) of U.S. workers are in the gig economy, which works out to approximately 57 million people, according to Forbes.com . This means that there are a large number of Americans working without traditional employee benefits and therefore without traditional employer-provided healthcare options.
For the self-employed, a variety of health insurance options and discount programs are available, including plans made accessible through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Here are a few ways you can save money on healthcare coverage if you are a freelancer or otherwise self-employed.
Before the ACA, it used to be that self-employed professionals had to make a tough choice, pay for a full healthcare plan (which was sometimes prohibitively expensive) or skip health insurance and hope that you stayed healthy.
Catastrophic coverage was a way to bridge that gap – providing coverage if something truly terrible happened. These plans had high deductibles and truly minimal coverage, but the premiums were affordably low.
Due to the ACA requirement that all health plans sold in the United States include minimum essential coverage , few catastrophic health plans exist. Many of today’s catastrophic plans include the required minimal coverage necessary while still keeping premiums relatively low.
For some gig-workers under 30, these plans may still be a good fit. Beginning in 2019 , the tax mandate that required minimum essential coverage is going away. It is likely that new catastrophic coverage options will become available for consideration.
If you’re shopping at the Health Insurance Marketplace and are wondering why some plans labeled “catastrophic” are more expensive than the ones labeled “Bronze,” it is likely because Bronze plans allow you to apply a subsidy to your monthly premiums if you qualify (and catastrophic plans do not).
These subsidies enable those who qualify, typically young freelancers and small business owners, to afford plans that offer much more than catastrophic coverage.
Self-employed Americans whose incomes fall within a specific percentage of the federal poverty level may be eligible for an additional subsidy for some health plans on top of the one available to them for all Marketplace coverage. This subsidy is called a “cost-sharing reduction” and applies only to plans in the Marketplace’s “Silver” category. For those qualified applicants, Silver plans with a cost-sharing reduction applied will offer costs comparable to Bronze plans.
Prescription savings cards are exactly what they sound like, a card that enables the user to pay a discounted rate for prescriptions at the pharmacy. All you have to do is download an Rx drug discount card or mobile app , and then show it at the pharmacy counter to receive a lower price.
There are no fees, and you can sign up regardless of whether you have health insurance . FamilyWize card users save an average of 45 percent on their prescription drugs!
To take the best advantage of prescription discount cards, always take a few minutes to ask questions at the pharmacy counter. If you do have health insurance, in some cases your copay for the medication may be your lowest cost option, but not always! Sometimes it is less expensive to pay cash for your Rx medications and use a discount card where possible.
If you are self-employed, rest assured that this post barely scratches the surface of the options you have for affordable healthcare. In addition to the items mentioned, it is often valuable to research short-term health insurance options (soon to be more affordable in 2019), dental discount plans, vision savings plans, and other types of co-pay coupons.
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