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6 Tips to Find Affordable Health Insurance When You Become Self-Employed

Many people dream of becoming self-employed, but aren't sure how they'll find affordable health insurance on their own. Laura covers six tips to find the best health coverage when you work for yourself or lose job-based insurance for any reason.

By
Laura Adams, MBA,
October 5, 2016
Episode #468

Page 1 of 4

6 Tips to Find Affordable Health Insurance When You Become Self-EmployedIf you’re dreaming about leaving a corporate job to work for yourself, getting affordable health insurance is probably one of your top concerns. Fortunately, there are more protections now than ever for those who leave the safety of a group health plan.

In this post I’ll cover six tips to find affordable health insurance when you become self-employed or leave a job for any reason, so you and your family get the coverage you need.

Major Benefits of the Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), known as Obamacare, requires every American to have qualified health insurance, or be subject to a tax penalty (with some exceptions). The law applies no matter if you’re employed, self-employed, unemployed, a child, an adult, or which state you live in.

One of the major benefits of the ACA is that you can’t be denied coverage or charged sky-high premiums when you have a preexisting medical condition. Additionally, there are no annual or lifetime caps on your health coverage.

And no matter how much covered care you receive, the law put caps on how much you have to pay. Out-of-pocket annual maximums vary depending on your plan, but if you get in-network care, you’ll never have to pay more than $6,850 as an individual or $13,700 as a family.

The ACA also offers many low- and middle-income Americans a health subsidy, which cuts the cost of premiums, depending on your income and family size.

Healthcare reform gave American workers who don’t get group coverage at work more options and security; however, there’s no denying that health insurance is still a huge expense.    

See also: 5 Retirement Options When You’re Self-Employed

Tips to Find Affordable Health Insurance When You're Self-Employed

Healthcare reform gave American workers who don’t get group coverage at work more options and security; however, there’s no denying that health insurance is still a huge expense.   

When you go out on your own, the real cost of health coverage can be shocking—especially if you just left a company that payed a big chunk of the insurance bill on your behalf.

Remember that the high cost of health insurance pales when compared to the alternative. Having a medical emergency or being diagnosed with a major illness that you can’t afford to treat could be devastating. Having peace of mind makes health insurance worth every penny.

Here are 6 tips to find affordable health insurance when you become self-employed or no longer have job-based coverage for any reason:

Tip #1: Don’t miss key annual deadlines

Since insurance companies can’t exclude you from coverage for having preexisting medical conditions anymore, what’s to stop consumers from buying coverage only after they get sick?

The answer is twofold: the law implemented an annual open enrollment period and hits you with a financial penalty if you stay uninsured for more than two months. In general, if you miss the enrollment window, you can’t get health insurance until the following year.

So don’t let these key ACA deadlines slip past you:

November 1, 2016 – is the first day of open enrollment for coverage that will begin on January 1, 2017. You can shop and enroll in new coverage or change an existing plan during the annual window that lasts until the end of January.

December 15, 2016 – is the last day to enroll in or change plans for coverage to begin no later than January 1, 2017.

January 31, 2017 – is the end of open enrollment. After this date, you can enroll or change health insurance plans only if you qualify for a special enrollment period.

Special enrollment allows you to get or change coverage outside of the regular enrollment window when you have a major qualifying life event, such as losing insurance at work, getting married or divorced, having a child, or relocating. However, you typically only have 60 days after the event occurs to enroll.

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