One of the things that is important to consider when you leave corporate America for the freedom of your own business is affordable health insurance. In fact, the reason most often cited for NOT taking the plunge into self-employment is the lack of cheap health insurance alternatives for people who are not employed by a company that can offer more affordable rates on health insurance through a group health insurance plan.
If you do decide to brave it and be your own boss, there are many places where you can cut corners. Letting yourself or your family go without health insurance is not one of them. Here are some common options that can make health insurance affordable if you're a self-employed entrepreneur or crafter.
Coverage under a Spouse's Plan
By far the most common option is to cover the family for health insurance through a spouse's employer. As long as one member of the couple is working for a company that has a group health insurance plan, it's usually the cheapest option for insuring the entire family.
COBRA is an option for the beginning of your self-employment. For the first several months after you leave your job, your employer is required by law to give you the option of retaining membership in their health insurance plan. You will have to cover the entire monthly premium paid by your company rather than the amount that you're used to paying as an employee when your employer was covering part of the cost. The true cost of that insurance can come as a shock to you – a family health insurance through a group can easily cost close to $ 1000 a month. It's still more affordable than most plans that you can purchase as an individual. It's also only temporary, so you should be looking for other health insurance options while you're still covered.
A Health Insurance Cooperative with Other Self-employed and Small Business Owners
There are national and local organizations of self-employed workers who have banded together to combine their buying power and get affordable health insurance premiums through group policies. You can find more information about groups in your area through the National Association for the Self Employed (www.nase.org) or the American Association of Home-Based Businesses (www.aahbb.org).
Group Health Insurance for the Self-Employed
In many states like Maine, health insurance companies offer affordable group policies for groups of one. You may have to shop around to find a company that does, but there are benefits other than being a cheaper policy. The most important of these is that they MUST cover everyone in the group, regardless of health conditions. This is important for someone who may have been turned down for an individual health insurance policy because of health.
No matter what, it is vital that you insure yourself and your family against the possibility of illness or accident. There are cheap alternatives to individual health insurance plans for the self-employed.
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