Healthcare has always meant a relatively large outlay of funds, especially for those who are self-employed. But with the mandate that everyone have coverage, those who went without because of costs now find themselves in the position of trying to find qualified, affordable coverage. For some, the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, has been a solution, but for others it’s an unexplored option. If you’re trying to navigate through the healthcare marketplace for coverage, here are some tips that won’t break the bank.
Deductible vs. Copays
Many people are confused about health insurance. For example, some use “deductible” to explain their out of pocket obligation, including what they pay to visit a doctor. This is both correct and incorrect. It’s true that a deductible is the total out of pocket you pay before your insurance kicks in, but the payments you make for doctor’s visits are called co-pays. This distinction is important because some policies have co-pays while others don’t. This can severely impact how quickly you reach your deductible.
Health Savings Account
This is an account wherein you can save pre-tax income and use it to pay your deductible. It can be used for medications, medical equipment and other medical needs that might arise.
Factors that Will Determine Insurance Rates
Although the ACA allows coverage for those who have preexisting conditions such as a chronic illness, high blood pressure or cancer, that doesn’t mean the coverage isn’t at an increased cost. If you have an illness or have had one in the past, your rates will probably be higher than for those without a preexisting condition. Also, smokers are still going to pay more for coverage than non-smokers. However, if you quit six months before a policy goes into effect, you could qualify for the nonsmoker’s rate.
Your age will also be a factor: the older you are, the more your insurance will cost. And the state in which you reside will also play a part in your overall costs. The healthier the state is, in general, will often translate to lower premiums.
Finding Insurance, Where to Look
One of the first places a self-employed electrician should look for health insurance is on the healthcare exchange. Once you enter your information on the government website, healthcare.gov, the site will generate a list of insurance policies that meet your needs. If you live in a state that participates in the exchange and if you meet income requirements, you could receive credits to offset the price of your policy. For example, an electrician making $30,000 in West Virginia could qualify for a discount on a policy.
If you don’t want to go through the exchange, you can search the Internet for health insurance options. Just as with the exchange, you’ll provide your information and you’ll receive quotes for medical coverage. Another option is to try to get insurance through trade or work organizations to which you belong. There are also medical sharing policies, which pools a group of similar people together to create group insurance. This is nearly always less expensive than an individual policy.
Many people have an issue with the mandate that requires everyone to be covered with some form of health insurance. But quite frankly, if you can swing it, try it – you need the coverage. The more people who are covered under their own policies, whether the cost is offset by the exchange or by some other factor, the less we all pay overall. By doing some research and using the above tips, you’ll hopefully find insurance coverage to suit your needs.