Health Insurance for FREELANCERS
Down & Out
My worst nightmare became reality when I hurt my back. I had been freelancing for about 3 years, but still hadn't accumulated enough regular work to buy health insurance. Besides, I had jobs with design studios and small companies at various times during my career that didn't provide employee benefits, so it wasn't something I missed. It's a common occurence in the commercial art industry; margins are so tight, many employers simply cannot meet the rent, pay the salaries and offer a competitive benefit package. Freelance teaches you a deep appreciation for employee benefits, but perhaps not enough to give up freedom (yes, put on your best Mel Gibson blue face, thank you).
A client, who also happened to be a nurse, took pity on me; actually, I think she was more interested in getting her projects completed. She got me in to see a well known back doctor who examined my films. "Yes, I think I can help you . . . in fact, I can relieve that pain in less than five minutes, but not today. You come and see me when you have health insurance." He patted me on the back as he pushed me out of his office, bent over, limping, tears in my eyes from the pain shooting down my right leg to my toes.
- If you don't go to the doctor more than once a year, consider carrying only major medical for emergencies.
- Check with design trade and professional associations to see if they have a group plan. Even joining a group like the National Business Association of America will help provide group rates around $500 per month for a family of 4 with $10 co-pays. Rates will be lower and coverage will be guaranteed on pre-existing conditions if you are part of a group. Now here's something an AIGA membership should offer our community, but doesn't.
- Shop online. Insurance companies pay fewer broker fees when you deal direct.
- Find out if you're eligible to use a medical savings account (MSA). The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) makes certain allowances for the self-employed. This let's you enjoy benefits from a higher deductible insurance policy (with reduced premiums) and use pre-tax dollars to pay for expenses up to your deductible limit.
Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Health Insurance for FREELANCERS.
TrackBack URL for this entry: