As a freelancer, self-employed business owner, gig worker, or consultant, you may be tempted to skip health insurance costs just for this year. After all, you’re totally healthy, right? If you aren’t covering a spouse or children, the urge to skip out could get even stronger.
Don’t listen to that urge.
Health insurance is one of the ways you ensure that your future is sorted out. While you’re worried about saving money or paying your next bill, an expensive health problem could be just around the corner. Just like your savings account or paying down your debt, covering health insurance is a must on your list if you want to be stable and secure.
But I’m Healthy
Yes, you are now, but lots of things happen that you don’t plan for. Accidents. Diagnoses. Even a brush with the flu can put a serious dent in your financial stability once those bills come in. Flu medicine can reach over $100, and that doesn’t include the cost of the clinic. A simple ambulance ride can cost several thousand dollars. If you have to be airlifted to a hospital, that bill can reach over $50,000. Heart surgery can be $70,000 to $200,000, and cancer treatments can easily top in the millions.
It can be tempting to look at health insurance in terms of just a few sicknesses here and there, but in reality, disasters happen all the time. Broken bones. Car crashes. You can’t live your life afraid to leave your house, but there’s a good chance that you’ll experience at least one major health issue in the next five years and that list doesn’t even cover a cancer diagnosis. You can’t rely on your health to save you.
One of the reasons health insurance can be so affordable for large employers is there’s a pool of healthy people paying premiums alongside those that require more medical care. Paying into the system while you’re healthy helps keep premiums down and makes sure you’re covered if you have an issue.
And don’t even think of waiting until something happens to purchase insurance. Many plans have waiting periods.
But I Can’t Afford It
Paying for health insurance isn’t fun, and you probably think you’ve got savings. A lot of people decide to nix health insurance and put that money into a savings account, but
• will you actually do that?
• do you have enough in savings already?
If you don’t have a hefty savings account, one big health issue will wipe you out many times over. A simple $1000 emergency savings might only be enough to cover an emergency room visit, and that’s if you don’t stay overnight.
There are many ways to lower your health insurance premiums. Around 87% of health insurance seekers will qualify for subsidies to help offset the cost of your premiums, and those subsidies cover an average of 87% of the cost. The average monthly premium for someone receiving subsidies is $76 per month — far lower than the $596 monthly premium average before the subsidies. You can also raise the cost of your deductible (the money you pay out of pocket before insurance kicks in) to help offset the cost of your premiums.
But I Don’t Know Where To Start
If you’ve relied on your employer’s options up to now, the open world of health insurance can be confusing. Plans from the ACA are arranged according to tiers designated by metals. Kristen Tyrrell, co-founder of Catch, has an excellent breakdown here.
If you’re young and healthy, a bronze plan could be a good option. It will cover your basic preventative care and prevent you from going bankrupt early in your life if you have to spend any time in the hospital. The trade is that you’ll owe a much higher deductible.
If you’re older and are on regular medications, have to see specialists for any reason, or have some chronic health concerns, a silver or gold plan could be a better choice. If you can afford it and know you’ll spend a lot of money at doctors, specialists, and hospitals over the course of a year, a platinum plan is the most expensive but may be the most cost-effective route for expenses you know you’ll have.
Like Everything with Working For Yourself - Just Get Started
Shopping for health coverage the first time can be challenging, but there is help. Catch has a brand new health insurance tool to explore plans in your area and see what subsidies you qualify for. It can take a lot of the mystery and anxiety out of the process, and it’s highly likely you’ll be able to find something that you can afford. Try it out now to see what’s available for you.
Health Insurance isn’t something fun to spend your money on, and at times can be a stretch if your budget is already tight. However, there’s a reason some really famous shows get their storylines from The USA’s insurance crisis. Don’t go that route. Make sure you and your family are covered and maintain your financial stability.