A Freelancer’s Guide to Health Insurance

As a freelancer or someone who is self-employed, finding the right health insurance is key so that you know you are covered when it comes to regular appointments, as well as those unexpected emergencies. But knowing how to find the right health insurance isn’t always easy. In fact, today’s health insurance landscape can feel increasingly overwhelming, mainly because there are so many options to choose from. In order to pick the right health insurance plan, it’s important that you understand how health insurance actually works, what it covers and what it doesn’t, so that you know the money you spend on an insurance plan every month is money well-spent.

For starters, health insurance covers medical and surgical expenses. In some cases, dental expenses are also covered by health insurance, although that is dependent on the individual plan. Depending on the type of health insurance you have, you’ll either be directly reimbursed by your insurance provider, or your insurance will cover the bill by paying the provider. While paying for health insurance out of pocket as a self-employed worker or freelancer might seem expensive, it’s good to remember that even when you work for an employer who offers you an insurance plan, money is still coming out of your paycheck to cover the expenses. It’s also important to remember that you can deduct insurance premiums from your taxes when you file as self-employed. 

Navigating Health Insurance

One of the most difficult parts about using health insurance is knowing which appointments and procedures will be covered, and which will leave you paying out-of-pocket. To avoid high out-of-pocket charges, you’ll want to “stay in network”, which means using the health care providers that your insurance policy works with directly. Before scheduling an appointment, always check to see if the health care provider will be covered by your specific insurance policy. 

Part of staying in network with your health insurance plan means selecting a PCP (primary care physician) who works directly with your policy. Your PCP will be your main point of contact for all of your health needs, referring you to specialists, and recommending treatments as needed. If you opt out of having a PCP with your plan, you’ll need to look at your PPOs (preferred provider organizations) when choosing who you’ll want to see for health care services. Using a PPO will make sure you’re still getting the lowest rate possible, and avoiding surprise out-of-pocket expenses that can be disastrous for your finances. 

When scheduling health care appointments yourself, it’s critical that you receive preauthorization, which is why a PCP can be so useful. Without the right preauthorization for a service, your health insurance plan can deny coverage altogether, which means the expense in its totality will be your responsibility to cover. Double checking that the appointment you’re making, or prescription you’re receiving, is covered by your specific plan can help make sure you’re getting the most out of the health insurance plan you’re paying for.

A Closer Look at Payments

In addition to paying a monthly amount for your health insurance plan, you’ll also need to look at other costs that come with having health insurance, including co-pays. Your health insurance plan will come with set amounts, or co-pays, that will be due at the time of an appointment, service, or when purchasing prescription drugs. You’ll also note that there are “deductibles” listed in your health insurance plan. A deductible is the amount you must spend before your health insurance kicks in. So, in other words, the higher your deductible is, the more you’ll be paying for health expenses yourself. However, some individuals decide that it’s worth having a higher deductible (higher out-of-pocket costs) because their monthly insurance premium is a lot less. 

When choosing your health insurance plan, it’s always a good idea to look at the advantages and disadvantages before signing a policy. For some freelancers, it makes more sense to pay less each month for a premium and risk having to pay more out-of-pocket if and when they need an expensive medical service. And, for others, paying more each month, but knowing what that amount will be exactly, helps them better plan for the future.

With a set of insurance and financial services specifically created for freelancers, CareerGig can help you find the best fit for your needs. Learn more about insurance for freelancers here.