If you are newly self-employed or considering self-employment, you may be unfamiliar with your health insurance marketplace options.
This can be especially true if you have previously relied upon traditional employers to cover your insurance needs. It can be intimidating to realize you are now entirely responsible for finding and funding your own insurance coverage.
Fortunately, sourcing affordable health insurance does not have to be impossible while working for yourself. Depending upon your type of self-employment, where you live and other factors, you may have a wide variety of options from which to choose.
The first step in finding the right affordable health insurance is determining whether you need personal health coverage for yourself and your family, or whether you need insurance options to cover your employees, as well. If you are a freelancer or “solopreneur,” you are most likely to benefit from selecting a personal policy from the health insurance marketplace.
If you are an entrepreneur with employees in need of coverage as well, you will need to investigate group or business insurance options. These are available directly from private insurers, such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, or through the public marketplace.
If you have between one and 50 employees, you may qualify for a Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) plan. SHOP plans allow your employees to share health care costs with your insurer and can be purchased in a range of coverage levels.
You can purchase marketplace health insurance for yourself and your family through your state or national marketplace or on the private market.
In the private market you can purchase insurance directly from the insurer of your choice at any time. Shopping around and comparing coverage and pricing can allow you to find the best policy for your needs at competitive pricing.
Your state or federal health insurance marketplace will offer a range of insurance options, but you may face restrictions on when you can purchase a policy. Generally, you are only permitted to shop for insurance using the marketplace during the annual Open Enrollment window or when you have experienced a life change that qualifies you for a Special Enrollment Period. Qualifying life changes include change of employment or marital status, the birth or adoption of a child or loss of other coverage from any cause.
If you have recently become self-employed, you may qualify for a special enrollment period. If you are planning to become self-employed, be sure to check with your marketplace immediately upon changing employment to ensure that you do not miss your enrollment window.
Alternatively, if you are traditionally employed but anticipate becoming self-employed in the near future, consider enrolling in COBRA insurance through your current employer. While COBRA is not a long-term solution, it can provide coverage for you and your family while you transition and provide you with extra time in which to research, select and obtain alternative coverage.
When sourcing affordable health insurance options for yourself and your employees, it is important to determine in advance what your priorities are. Consider:
Exploring these priorities will enable you to compare and contrast marketplace health insurance policies clearly and efficiently to find the best options for your needs.
Whether you shop the health insurance marketplace or private insurers, you can expect to find the following types of group plans available.