5 Things Every Freelancer Should Know About Open Enrollment
Brisk autumn days. Fancy pumpkin lattes. Open enrollment. Signs that November is finally here. If you’re an independent professional — and recent labor stats indicate that as many as 40% of the workforce are currently doing some degree of freelance work — that means it’s time to start thinking about health insurance.
While the cost of health insurance is a huge expense for most freelancers, you simply can’t afford to not have it. Not only is it smart to get yourself health insurance, it’s now required under the Affordable Care Act — you can actually be fined if you don’t have it. Get this…in 2016, 4 million people will pay an average penalty of $590, don’t be one of those people.
Given that health insurance is a sizable expenditure for many independent professionals, it pays to be smart about how you evaluate and select your different health care alternatives. Your health plan needs to fit your lifestyle, but it also needs to be extremely cost-effective and easy to choose. Here are 5 tips to get a head start and stay on track while finding the best plan for you:
1: Learn the basics!
Don’t know how health insurance works? Not sure what “deductible” means? Check out this quick guide from Stride Health. In just a few minutes, you’ll be an expert on basic health insurance features, how doctor networks function, and more. Knowing this info will help you make smarter choices!
2: Comparison shop.
The trick to finding the best plan is to understand your medical costs. If you don’t see the doctor often, a more expensive plan with lots of benefits may just waste your money. However, if you take prescriptions and see a specialist, the cheapest plan may cost you more in the long run. Not a numbers person? Don’t sweat it. That’s why we’ve teamed up with Stride Health.
3: Put your health expenses to work for you.
Did you know that you might be able to deduct up to 100% of the premiums you pay for health insurance? Thanks to the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, you might be able to write-off the costs of health insurance for you and everyone else in your family.
If you’re self-employed, there are many different expenses you can deduct at tax time. Doing this correctly can actually save you thousands of dollars. These deductions include your health insurance premiums (monthly payments) and sometimes even your other medical costs!
4: Know your income. Cash-in on discounts.
Your income probably isn’t a fixed annual salary, which means it might be difficult to figure out how much you make in a year. It’s worth the extra effort to estimate what you’ll earn this year, though; correctly reporting your income when you apply for health insurance can qualify you for some serious government discounts! These can make your monthly premium significantly cheaper, perhaps getting it down to just $10/month!
5: Consider a Health Savings Account (HSA)
An HSA is a savings account that can only be used for certain health-related expenses. Because you don’t pay taxes on the money you put into an HSA, it’s a powerful financial tool that helps you plan for the future and save money. Consider this: If you’re an average individual paying about 25% of your income in taxes, you can effectively stash away $100 in your HSA while only reducing your take-home pay by $75. That’s like getting $25 for free. Even if you have insurance now, check your plan – you can use an HSA to pay for many types of coverage, including employer plans.
In just a few seconds, they’ll help recommend a plan that will save you the most annually! Learn more about our partnership with Stride Health and start saving hundreds on health insurance today!