A Freelancing Guide to Health Care

By:  Lynsey Bish

Freelancing is a self-employed person offering services, usually to businesses and often to multiple clients at a time. Nearly every type of service a business would need could be provided by a freelancer, including (but not limited to) marketing, such as social media marketing, copyrighting, technological support, graphic design and being an owner of a business rather than an employer.

Freelancing is so flexible, you can set your work hours, working full-time or part-time on projects of your choice.  However, there are some major advantages to working in a salaried position, one being access to employer-sponsored benefits like health insurance.

Paying for your own health insurance out-of-pocket can be costly, but the benefits provided by health plans outweigh going uninsured when it comes to cost. At BABB Inc., we strive to help individuals who are in need of coverage and not sure where to start.

Marketplace, available at HealthCare.gov, is operated by the federal government and helps provide enrollment in affordable health insurance plans.  The Marketplace provides health plan shopping and enrollment services though websites, call centers, and in-person help.

The advantage to Marketplace is the premium tax credit and possible cost sharing reductions. When you enlist in Marketplace health insurance, you can have the Marketplace figure an expected credit based on your reported income that is paid to your insurance agency to bring down what you pay for you month to month premiums. Low income families could also be eligible for cost sharing reductions with lowered deductibles and/or copays. On the other hand, you can have propel installments of premium tax credit made for your benefit, and accommodate the sum paid ahead of time with the credit you register when you file your tax return

The premium tax credit is intended to help qualified people and families with low or moderate income afford the cost of medical coverage.

Irs.gov goes into detail about premium tax credit facts from basic questions, eligibility, computing the about, reporting, claiming, and reconciling.

The premium tax credit has benefited many, but comes with a few disadvantages to freelancers. It requires people who get the tax credit to accurately project their incomes for the upcoming year.  Being a freelancer it is a challenge, because payments can be irregular. One month you might have record earnings, and the next you might experience your own personal financial crisis. Please note that any over or underpayments of premium tax credits will be reconciled when you file your taxes for the year. You could owe or receive a refund.

If Marketplace is not a fit for you or your family it is best to go direct to a carrier. Highmark Affordable Care Act (ACA) individual plans are available on the Marketplace, for most areas. Highmark plans are also available for many local insurance brokers, like BABB Inc.

The positive about going direct to a carrier is that they do not go as in-depth into income as Marketplace. Depending on where you live, you may also have more options shopping outside the Marketplace. Note, if you do qualify for government financial savings, you will not be able to apply it directly to the carrier.  Government financial savings are only to be used for plans purchases on Marketplace.

Unfortunately, the open enrollment period for buying individual and/or family health insurance has closed.  You will most likely need to sit tight until the 2018 open enrollment period to purchase health insurance.  The only way you can buy into the 2017 health coverage is if you qualify for a 2017 Special Enrollment Period.

Life change information for the Special Enrollment Period includes:

  • If you have experienced family or household changes, such as, recently married, entered into a domestic partnership, or had a change in number of child dependents
  • Job, income, or residence change that resulted in loss of minimum essential coverage or lost eligibility for tax credits.
  • Loss, issues, or changes with your insurance may have changed because of death, divorce, or eligibility.
  • American Indian, Alaska Native, or changes in citizenship. This could be if you recently became a U.S. citizen or if you are part of a federally-recognized tribe. (This coverage is not available through the Highmark site)

Health Insurance can be confusing, attempting to discover if a pre-existing condition(s) limits your choices, what your plan covers, or how to estimate household income. Insurance brokers may be your best route. Brokers are generally licensed and experienced with a number of plans that will benefit you as a freelancer.

For help with your health care needs, don’t be afraid to call the experts at Babb, Inc.  They will gladly assist you in navigating the confusing waters of insurance and help you get covered.


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