By Matthew Lubin
While our elected officials squabble over the future of our health insurance, millions are living without any coverage. We can only speculate how new legislation will affect our coverage (if we’re fortunate enough to have any). If all goes well, the government will bring down the cost of health insurance through employers and make policies for freelancers more affordable (please, don’t laugh too hard at the thought of the government really helping out the working class).
There are some things we can do to keep ourselves healthy: eat better and exercise instead of snacking in front of the computer all day. But, a healthy lifestyle can only go so far—we still need preventive medical coverage. We should all see a doctor for regular check-ups. And we need some insurance to ensure that seeing a doctor in case of an emergency won’t cost us an arm and a leg (which the hospital will gladly amputate for an excessive fee).
For some of us, health insurance isn’t a great concern as we may be covered by our spouses’ policies. Let this be the first lesson to all freelancers: marry someone with a stable job and health insurance. Unfortunately, even coverage through a spouse’s policy can be expensive—my wife’s insurance bill more than doubles when I am added to it (and it wasn’t cheap to begin with).
For the freelancers who aren’t covered by spouses, there is still hope. You don’t have to work a full-time job to purchase health insurance—the insurers are more than happy to take your money no matter what your employment status is. If your freelance career doesn’t depend on you living in a certain area, you may want to consider moving to town that has lower insurance premiums (such as outside the New York/New Jersey area).
The quickest way to check on health insurance quotes is to go to eHealthInsurance.com. All you need to do is type in your ZIP code, date of birth, gender, student status, and whether or not you’re a smoker. The site will bring you some quotes from major health insurers in your area. You can choose the kind of coverage you’d like as well. For example, a full-coverage policy for a healthy 30-year-old male in New Jersey would cost almost $200 per month (plus $30 co-pay). However, you need to realize that the price quoted on the site may not be the actual cost—you may still need to go through more screening for a policy, which may involve a physical exam. (Note: GoHealthInsurance.com will just take you to quotes on the eHealthInsurance site.)
Another option to individual private insurance is to join a freelancers organization that offers insurance plans to its members. You have to apply to join these organizations and pay annual dues before you can join the health plans. Be sure to research the organizations to find which one suits you best; don’t just look at the health insurance as a selling point.
- The Editorial Freelancers Association offers a few health insurance options depending on your needs and location. The plans start at $400 per month. There is also a discount medical plan (not insurance) for $242 per year for a household.
- The National Writers Union currently only has a HIP plan for New York residents, but is looking to expand coverage across the U.S. with two prospective plans in the works.
- The National Writers Association has insurance plans through Health Choice One with various carriers around the country, and the cost of the plans depends on your location, age, and current health condition.
Freelancers can contact the organizations for more detailed information on health insurance policies for individual needs.