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When employers offer health insurance as a benefit, the employer may pay over 80% of the cost. If you’re self-employed or a contractor, the entire cost of health insurance coverage is yours. Fortunately, there are some effective ways to make health insurance more affordable, but there are some important considerations as well.
Best Self-Employed Health Insurance:
- Cheapest for Self Employed: Kaiser Permanente
- Best for Combining Dental Insurance: Blue Cross Blue Shield
- Best for Combining Vision Insurance: Cigna
- Best for Older Self Employed Professionals: Humana
- Best Private Health Insurance: Aetna
What Should I Know About Self-Employed Health Insurance?
The Affordable Care Act changed the health insurance landscape, introduced additional requirements for insurers and mandated coverage for consumers. The federal coverage mandate is no longer in place for consumers but some states, like New Jersey, have enacted state-level mandates for residents.
Even where not mandatory, health insurance can provide a safety net for you and your family. Often, it’s best to view insurance as coverage for the big expenses — the type of expenses that can change your lifestyle or leave you burdened with medical bills for years.
Like other types of insurance, health insurance has its own lingo and industry terms that affect how your coverage applies and which expenses you pay out-of-pocket. Become familiar with the most common terms because they can have a dramatic effect on your overall health insurance costs.
What Affects Health Insurance Costs?
Unlike other types of insurance, like home or auto insurance, where literally hundreds of factors can affect your rates, health insurance uses a limited number of individual rating factors that can affect your premiums.
- Age: Expect to pay more for your health insurance as you get older.
- Location: State rules and localized cost of services can affect your premiums.
- Tobacco use: Insurers can charge up to 50% more for tobacco users. However, some states prohibit the practice or limit the additional premium based on tobacco use.
- Individual vs. family: Plans that extend coverage to family members cost more than plans limited to individuals.
Plan features, such as the structure of the deductible or out-of-pocket limits, affect the cost of premiums as well.
What to Look for in a Self-Employed Health Insurance Plan
Each household has its own priorities. Some households may place physician choice above monthly cost. Other households might prioritize monthly affordability over occasional expenses, like higher copays or coinsurance.
While your priorities may differ from those of your neighbor, be aware of the potential costs when choosing a health insurance provider. The monthly premium for your health insurance only tells part of the story. In a year in which your healthcare needs are higher, your cost can skyrocket if you choose a plan that has lower premiums but which has higher deductibles, co-pays, coinsurance, or a higher maximum out-of-pocket limit.
You’ll find most of your options are from long-established and well-known health insurance providers. However, some plans or providers may offer options that are more advantageous for your household.
Best Self-Employed Health Insurance Providers
Take a look at our list and compare quotes to find the best premium for you.
1. Kaiser Permanente
Health insurance is often offered regionally, and Kaiser Permanente is no exception. While limited to just 8 states and Washington, D.C., this insurer is known for affordable rates and a wide selection of options (if you live where it offers plans).
If you’re a little older but not quite ready for Medicare, you may also find a price advantage with Kaiser Permanente.
2. Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS)
An American icon, Blue Cross Blue Shield is a time-tested insurer made up of dozens of regional companies that span the U.S. Plan availability varies based on location, which is common in the health insurance industry but may be more pronounced with BCBS and its federation of health insurance companies.
Customers can expect a wide network of healthcare providers and a strong assortment of plans in most areas.
Cigna, a popular choice with employers for group health insurance plans, also offers individual plans in 12 states throughout the U.S. Dental plans are also available over a wider geographic territory.
Cigna customers can expect an expansive network of doctors and a practical assortment of health insurance plans, including high-deductible plans that qualify for health savings accounts. Cigna does not offer short term health insurance plans.
Available in 22 states, Humana is not only widely accessible but also a more affordable option. In some states, Humana can bundle dental and vision coverage with your health insurance coverage, providing an all-in-one solution that’s increasingly rare in the health insurance industry.
Like Cigna, Humana does not offer short-term plans but if your needs are longer-term, this insurer deserves a closer look.
Offering plans both privately and through the health marketplace exchanges, Aetna offers a broad range of healthcare plans, including dental and vision plans and even travel insurance. Aetna’s indemnity plans provide an affordable way to reduce costs for many common health services.
Health insurance costs vary by age and location, but consumers who are price conscious can expect Aetna’s health insurance plans to be more affordable than some other options.
Get the Right Plan if You’re Self-Employed
Health insurance premiums for self-employed individuals became 100% tax deductible in 2003 in many cases. This deduction reduces your taxable income by the amount of money you pay for health insurance premiums in the tax year. Tax rules and qualifications can change, so be sure to check current guidelines each year before taking the deduction on your 1040.
If you’re newly self-employed and still building your income, a subsidized marketplace plan may be the best solution in the short term. However, if you have significant savings or are able to regularly fund a health savings account, a high-deductible health insurance plan may be a more cost-effective solution that also provides more freedom.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the costs of self-employed health insurance?
The average prices range from $200 and $500 per month.
What factors impact self-employment health insurance?
Several factors influencing self-employment insurance include your location, age, tobacco usage, family and individual plans.