Whether it’s a broken bone or a serious infection, any medical emergencies can be a huge out of pocket expense to people who are self employed and don’t insure themselves, movie stars included. For many entrepreneurs and people in the arts, the biggest difference between working for themselves and working for a larger company is health insurance coverage. There are three basic options available to people in this situation.
The first and most beneficial option is to receive coverage from a spouse’s employer. Generally plans offered through a company will always have better rates than plans that are given out to individuals. “When you’re looking for a mate, don’t just base it on looks," jokes Sara Horowitz, the executive director of Freelancers Union. "Find someone with really great health insurance.”
If you are single, or partnered with another self-employed person, your options are to get group health insurance or individual health insurance. The availability and cost of coverage varies by state, but according to Jennifer Gaff, founder of Advocacy for Patients with Chronic Illness, people who are healthy should not have a hard time qualifying. The plans do not come cheap, however. For example, Horowitz says, the average plan in the New York Tri-State area runs between $300 and $500 per month. “The costs depend on the state but generally rural areas will be more expensive than costal areas.”
Insurance searchers with a pre-existing medical condition may face additional hurdles. (And, according to Gaff, more than half of Americans report having some sort of chronic health issue, whether it is high blood pressure or Crohn’s disease.) “Insurance providers don’t want to cover people who are already sick because they are the most expensive,” says Gaff. For self employed people with an illness or medical condition, the options are the same but qualifying to receive coverage can be an issue. Sometimes people with chronic health issues are denied insurance all together, and sometimes they must settle for more limited coverage.
While finding insurance can be a long process, there are helpful resources available. Gaff suggests using www.healthinsuranceinfo.com, as a guide. The site, which is run by the Georgetown Health Policy Institute, provides information on what is provided to people in each state. Horowitz also suggests checking out www.actorsfund.org, which is dedicated to helping actors find health insurance, but will work as a guide for anyone who is self-employed.