While freelancing or doing gig work may offer the flexibility and independence that many people desire, it can come with a downside: the absence of employer-provided benefits, including health insurance. This can make it difficult for freelancers and contract workers to know how to protect themselves and their loved ones in case of unexpected medical expenses.
If you’re facing this challenge in Kansas, there is hope. Cover Kansas provides free assistance with finding and enrolling in health insurance options. Don’t let the lack of traditional employment benefits discourage you from pursuing your dreams. Take advantage of the resources available to you and secure the coverage you need with help from a Cover Kansas Navigator.
In this article we’ll look at health insurance plan options, comparing health insurance options, and how to get health insurance if you are a gig worker or freelancer.
Health Insurance Plan Options
Luckily, there are various ways for gig workers to get health insurance coverage. Here are some options you may want to consider:
- Individual Health Insurance Plans: These plans are designed for individuals and families who don’t have access to employer-sponsored coverage. They can be bought directly from insurance companies or from the government-run Health Insurance Marketplace under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). These plans are flexible and can be customized to suit your budget and requirements, but they may be more expensive than employer-sponsored coverage.
- Short-Term Health Insurance Plans: These plans provide temporary coverage for a specific duration, typically up to a few months. They are a good option for gig workers who need coverage for a brief period, such as between jobs or while waiting for a new employer-sponsored plan to start. However, short-term plans usually don’t cover pre-existing conditions and may have coverage limits.
- Association Health Plans: These plans are offered by professional or trade associations and are available to members of the association. Gig workers who belong to an association related to their field of work may find association plans to be an ideal option. However, these plans may not be accessible in all states and may have limited coverage options.
- Health Savings Accounts (HSAs): These are tax-favored savings accounts that can be paired with high-deductible health plans (HDHPs). Contributions to an HSA are tax-deductible, and the funds can be used to pay for qualifying medical expenses. HSAs can be a good choice for gig workers who are healthy and don’t anticipate incurring high medical costs since they usually have lower premiums than traditional health insurance plans.
- COBRA Continuation Coverage: COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) allows gig workers who have lost employer-sponsored health insurance to continue their coverage for a limited time, generally 18-36 months. However, COBRA can be pricey since the individual is responsible for paying the full premium, including the portion that the employer previously paid.
Need help deciding what type of health insurance plan is right for you and your unique needs? Speak with a certified health navigator for FREE. Cover Kansas health navigators are certified professionals who assist individuals at no cost in understanding and enrolling in health insurance plans and help with post-enrollment issues.
Comparing Health Insurance Options
When comparing health insurance plans, it’s important to take into account several factors that can impact your health care and finances. Here are some things to consider:
- Coverage: The first thing to look at is what services and treatments are covered under each health insurance plan. You should make sure that the plan covers the medical services you need, such as preventive care, prescription drugs, and specialist visits. Some plans may have exclusions or limitations on certain treatments, so it’s important to read the plan’s summary of benefits and exclusions carefully.
- Cost: The cost of a health insurance plan is not just the monthly premium, but also includes deductibles, copays, and out-of-pocket maximums. You should compare the total costs of each plan and consider your expected medical expenses for the year. If you expect to have a lot of medical expenses, it may be worth paying a higher premium for a plan with lower out-of-pocket costs.
- Network: The network of providers refers to the doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers that are contracted with the insurance company. You should check that your preferred doctors and hospitals are included in the plan’s network, as going out-of-network can result in higher costs.
- Customer Service: The insurance company’s customer service can be important if you have questions or issues with your plan. You should research the company’s reputation for customer service and consider whether they offer convenient options such as online billing and appointment scheduling.
- Flexibility: If you expect your health needs to change in the future, it may be worth considering a plan with flexible coverage options. For example, some plans allow you to change your coverage mid-year or offer different levels of coverage for different types of services.
To compare health insurance plans, you can search online for available plans, speak with an insurance broker, or speak with a certified health navigator for free who can help you understand the different options available. It’s also important to read the plan’s summary of benefits and exclusions carefully to ensure you understand exactly what is covered under the plan.
Getting Health Insurance
When looking for health insurance, gig workers have multiple options to choose from, but it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons of each option carefully. It’s crucial to have health insurance to safeguard you and your family from unforeseen medical expenses, so it’s recommended to start exploring your options as soon as possible instead of waiting until you require medical care.
Speaking with a Cover Kansas Navigator can provide valuable insights to determine the best fit for your needs and budget.
A certified health navigator is a professional who is trained and certified to help individuals and families understand and navigate the health insurance marketplace. Cover Kansas Navigators are trained to assist you with enrolling in health insurance plans, understanding plan benefits, and identifying financial assistance programs that may be available to you.
The primary role of a certified health navigator is to guide individuals and families through the health insurance enrollment process. This includes helping them understand the different types of health insurance plans available, such as individual plans, employer-sponsored plans, Medicaid, and Medicare. Navigators can also help individuals compare plans based on factors such as premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket costs.
In addition to helping with enrollment, certified health navigators can also assist individuals with post-enrollment issues, such as billing and claims disputes. They can also provide guidance on how to use their health insurance plans effectively, such as helping them find in-network healthcare providers or understanding their prescription drug coverage.
Overall, the goal of Cover Kansas and our statewide network of certified health navigators is to help individuals and families in Kansas access affordable and quality healthcare coverage. By providing education and support, our navigators can help you make informed decisions about your healthcare coverage and ensure that you have the resources you need to stay healthy.