Health Insurance Options for the Self-Employed

Health insurance may not be top of mind if you’re thinking of striking out on your own — since you’re probably busy thinking about business ideas. But if you live in the U.S., making sure you’re able to get health insurance is one of the most critical things to plan for before you make the leap.

In face, if you’re thinking of working for yourself and don’t have health insurance taken care of first, you should be afraid. Very afraid. I would not become self-employed without getting health coverage so long as I have any choice in the matter. Being without that is a scary idea.

Exploring your options

If you’re married and your spouse has insurance through their employer, the easiest route is to see if you can be added to their policy. This can probably be done relatively easily, but make sure before you take the plunge. (And be sure to check on costs, too.)

If you’re under 26, you may also be able to be added to your parent’s policy.

If neither of those are options (or if they’re too expensive), it’s time to look into private options. The Finder on HealthCare.gov can be a good starting point. If you’re in great health with zero preexisting conditions, you can probably find a decent policy at a reasonable cost pretty easily. If you have some risk factors, you can probably still find a high-deductible policy.

If you go the high-deductible route, remember that it won’t cover much unless you have a huge bill. That means you’ll need to pay for most normal medical expenses out of pocket, and you’ll need to have a hefty emergency fund on hand too in case you need to pay that high deductible.

What if you’re denied coverage?

If you’re denied health insurance coverage due to pre-existing conditions, other options could include joining the pre-existing condition insurance plan, having at least one employee so that you can have your own group policy, waiting until 2014 when insurance companies can no longer deny you coverage based on your health, working part time at a company that offers health insurance to PT employees, or maybe moving some place where you can’t be excluded from getting health coverage or care.

Be sure to investigate your options thoroughly, as things are changing frequently. The important thing is to make sure you’re covered, because the financial risk is just huge otherwise.

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