Sometimes being a freelance graphic designer isn’t all it is cracked up to be. You probably get a fair share of comments from family and friends telling you how ‘lucky’ you are or how ‘easy’ your job is. The truth is that freelancing isn’t the glorious job people make it out to be. For each unique advantage it offers, there is seemingly an equal disadvantage.
One of the most glaring disadvantages of freelancing is the issue of buying affordable health insurance. No access to group rates means big premiums. The long talked about Affordable Care Act (ACA) will be changing the healthcare system in a number of ways. For some freelancers, it might be a great opportunity to get affordable health insurance. Read on to learn a little bit about this legislation, how it works, and how it might affect you.
Beefing Up Plans
Under this new law, every plan has to provide ten categories of so-called essential health benefits that cover a range of services. To read a list of the benefits check out the entry at Healthcare.gov’s glossary here. As you can see, it covers a wide breadth of medical services. However, you should realize that the individual services actually covered by these benefits is left to each state to decide.
Healthcare.gov – The Marketplace
Healthcare.gov is where you will find the federal health insurance exchange. To see if your state is running their own exchange you can check out this list from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Which exchange you buy insurance on doesn’t make a huge difference, as they all use a similar tier-based system. In this system, plans are organized into four tiers named bronze, silver, gold and platinum. You are probably not surprised to learn that the platinum plans have the biggest premiums and cover the highest percentage of out of pocket costs. On the other side of things, bronze plans sport the lowest premiums and the highest out of pocket costs.
Are You Eligible For A Tax Credit?
If you have an income that is between 100 percent and 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Line, you will be happy to know that you could receive a tax credit, perhaps a hefty one. It is beyond the scope of this article to discuss all of the factors outside of your income which can alter your tax credit. To get at least some idea of the size of your tax credit the Kaiser Family Foundation’s subsidy calculator is a great place to start.
A Few Words About Preparation
Hopefully you feel like you know a little bit more about the ACA than you did before. However, getting a plan isn’t about knowing, it is about doing. Before you start looking at plans you need to understand some things about yourself and your healthcare needs. Knowing how much money you have put towards health insurance and health care in the past is perhaps the most important piece of information you need. Furthermore, are you willing to change doctors to stay in your new plan’s network? Do you have any pre-existing conditions?
Once you have a good grasp of your healthcare needs and your budget, try to learn as much as you can. The more information you have in your hands the better a decision you will be able to make. It is worse it to talk to a licensed health insurance broker. When, and only when, you are feeling confident you can make the right choice, make it.