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The best health insurance options for freelancers

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When I talk to would-be entrepreneurs and freelancers, the one recurring objection to leaving the 9-5 grind is the lack of affordable insurance. And with good reason! Americans without coverage through work (and even those WITH employer-sponsored coverage) can shell out thousands of dollars a year for insurance -- even with a high deductible plan. But there are options to make insurance more affordable.

Remember, with the ACA in full effect this year, it is more important than ever to be insured. Besides that, being without insurance is incredibly risky. While unlikely, one major uninsured illness or injury could bankrupt you.

A few possible solutions that may or may not meet your needs:

College students -- If you are an entrepreneur in school, you will likely be able to get cheap insurance through your university. Go to your school’s website and check out the health services page for insurance options.

Young adults -- If you are under the age of 26, you may be eligible for coverage under your parents’ plans, even if you are married. This is the option I chose, as it was the cheapest option available to me. I reimburse my father for the extra premium he pays each month, and I get great insurance for cheaper than I could elsewhere.

Employee spouses -- If you are married to a traditional employee, coverage under your spouse’s plan may be cheaper than individual insurance. Compare prices on both to see which option is cheaper/better for you.

Part-time traditional employment -- Some companies offer coverage for part-time employees if you elect to keep a traditional job on the side. Even if the insurance isn’t specifically provided, you may be able to negotiate an employer-sponsored health plan.

If none of the above apply to you, there are several options for freelancers who want to join a health insurance organization. A few popular choices include:

eHealthInsurance -- compare over 100 different available health, dental, and vision plans, including short term health insurance starting as low as $0.85 a day

Freelancers Union -- get access to freelancer-specific health, dental, vision, and disability insurance

StartupInsurance -- health and dental insurance specifically for startups and entrepreneurs

National Association for the Self-Employed -- provides optional health and life insurance for members

If you are leaving a full-time job to become an entrepreneur, you can always take advantage of COBRA. You must elect to participate in COBRA within 60 days of resignation, and are generally eligible for coverage for 18 months, provided you pay your premiums on time.

Insurance should not be holding you back from your entrepreneurial dreams. Explore your options and you will likely find affordable coverage for yourself and your family.

About Erin El Issa

Erin is the founder of Red Debted Stepchild, a blog about her journey to getting out of debt while still enjoying life in Portland, OR with her husband. She enjoys reading, eating, traveling, and crunching numbers on her numerous spreadsheets. Sometimes she remembers to tweet at @reddebted.

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