Whether you’re a photographer, author, consultant, or technologist, now is the one time of year to buy health insurance. We've done the research to help you get started on your search. Take our short quiz to see what plans we recommend and scroll down for all you need to know this open enrollment period.
Here's what you need to know to get started.
Open enrollment is the time to buy health insurance. It runs from November 1 to December 15 each year, with your new plan starting January 1. If you don’t enroll now, you will be locked out from buying health insurance unless you get married, have a child, or change jobs.
How to apply for subsidies with episodic income.
It is possible to get premium subsidies as a freelancer even if your income isn’t predictable. The federal government bases their financial assistance on what you estimate your net income will be next year—not on last year’s taxes. Your best guess is based on your earning history and any changes you know are coming. This will determine if your premiums are subsidized when you first sign up.
Then, make sure to update your earnings information periodically so you don’t end up losing out on the financial assistance you are eligible for, or paying back assistance for which you were no longer eligible for come next tax season.
What's always covered.
Some medical services must be covered by all plans. These are called essential health benefits and the list includes: preventive care (like annual exams and well-baby visits), emergency services, mental health and substance abuse care, maternity care, labs, and hospitalization.
Just because something is “covered,” however, doesn’t mean you won’t need to pay for it. While preventive services are typically covered 100% from an in-network doctor, most other services have a deductible or copay that will apply, and with the exception of emergency services, you must see an in-network doctor to receive benefits.
What’s rarely covered.
I recommend buying supplemental insurance to cover things rarely covered by health insurance:
- Dental care: While health insurance plans will cover some kids’ dental services, adults must add their own dental plan. Get a dental quote here.
- Deductible and copays: Most health plans will have a deductible or copay that you are responsible for even when the medical care is covered. This means having a strategy to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses. Accident insurance can help with this since it pays you directly if you ever receive medical care due to an injury. (Such as riding your bike into a car door or dropping something heavy on your toes.) Read our earlier blog post for an example of how accident plans can help pay the bills. Get an accident quote here.
- Living expenses: Child care, travel bills, out-of-network medical care, and other expenses that pile up while you’re convalescing are also not covered by health insurance. A critical illness plan (sometimes called specified disease insurance) can fill in these gaps by providing a lump sum payment to you if you are diagnosed with a serious illness, such as a heart attack, stroke, or cancer. These plans are only available to those who do have health insurance. See what we recommend for you here.