Paul Young asks,
As a freelancer, what do you do about health insurance?
Insurance is one of the biggest questions that freelancers face when they strike out on their own. Because of the costs associated with buying individual insurance, I know more than a few freelancers who have chosen to skip health insurance and simply hope that they can cover medical expenses. While I can understand the decision, I think that having health insurance is more than a big expense for freelancers, though: it’s one of the few ways you can protect yourself from huge medical bills that can ruin a freelancer’s hopes for independence.
What are the options beyond going without health insurance? For a freelancer, my first recommendation is usually to check out the Freelancers’ Union. The organization offers insurance at lower costs specifically for freelancers — because they work with large groups of freelancers, they’re able to get costs closer to what companies pay. It’s still more expensive than if you were to receive health insurance as a benefit, but it’s better than going it alone. However, I have heard from freelancers who have found that the Freelancers’ Union wasn’t the perfect fit — there are other options as well.
Another good bet is any professional organization you belong to. Many have connections to an insurance provider, possibly even offering discounts on insurance through the organization. You can also purchase insurance on your own, which may be more necessary if you need specific help with your insurance, is to buy individual insurance. Sites like eHealthInsurance can help you shop around for the best deal.
There are a few other options that are not discussed quite as often. I know more than a few freelancers who have spouses that choose their employers on the basis of health insurance as a benefit. It’s not most freelancers’ first choice for obtaining health insurance, but it does happen on a fairly regular basis.
Got a question for me about freelance writing? Comment here or email me — I’d be happy to include it in next week’s ‘Ask Me Anything.’