The Essentials Of The Affordable Care Act For Freelance Photographers


Let’s not kid ourselves, when it comes to health insurance, freelance photographers are in an unfortunate situation. Despite working long hours like everyone else and managing their own business, freelance photographers don’t get the same group rates that regular employees do. There is no question that buying insurance as an individual is more expensive.

If you are a freelance photographer looking for a solution to this problem, look no further. The Affordable Care Act has put a number of measures in place to make things easier on freelancing individuals such as yourself.

The Foundation Of A Good Plan: The Essential Health Benefits

The first way that freelance photographers benefit from the ACA is through the legislation’s ten essential health benefits categories. These are categories of medical services that each and every plan will have to provide for in some manner.

healthcare1I say “in some manner” because specific services are not outlined for each category by the law. Instead, states decides what each plan has to cover in terms of these benefits. To take a look at all of the essential health benefits, check out this list at’s glossary.

Delve Into Your Records

Now that you have an idea of what each plan will provide you with, it’s time to put some energy towards finding the right one. Knowing the right plan is really about knowing yourself. This isn’t a piece of Zen wisdom: Start figuring out some numbers. If you know how much money you have spent on healthcare in the past under a given plan, you are going to have a solid reference point to look at for other plans. Otherwise, your plan of choice could just be a shot in the dark.

Browse Your Exchange

Hopefully, you are starting to feel a bit more confident about getting yourself a health insurance plan. For most people, the federal exchange at will be where you will buy a plan. Check out the Kaiser Family Foundation’s list here to see if you live in a state that runs its own health insurance exchange.

No matter which exchange you’re shopping on, you’ll be seeing plans labeled as Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum. These labels probably seem self-explanatory. The Platinum plans charge you more per month, but they will provide more coverage overall, whereas Bronze plans charge lower premiums but come with a high amount of out-of-pocket expenses.

How You Are Going To Save

healthcare2If your income lies between 100 percent and 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Line, then you are one of the thousands of Americans who will get a federal health insurance subsidy for an exchange plan. There are a slew of things that can have an effect on your tax credit, so you won’t know for sure until you get to that point in the process.

That being said, the Kaiser Family Foundation has a subsidy calculator that can give you a number to work with.

Keep Yourself Up To Date

You know a bit about the ACA now, but you have to keep pushing for more information. Laws change, and you should be one of the first people to know when something changes with the ACA. If you want to make a truly informed decision about your health insurance plan, you may want to think of contacting a licensed broker. The open enrollment for the marketplace still has a while to go (until March 2014), so take your time and make a good decision.

About the author: Michael Cahill is the Editor of the Vista Health Solutions Blog. He writes about the health care system, health insurance industry and the Affordable Care Act. Follow him on Twitter at @VistaHealthMike

Image credits: Public domain photograph by Pete Souza

  • lewismd

    I want to nitpick slightly on the “How you are going to save” section. It’s actually if your income is between 133 and 400 percent of the federal poverty line that you’ll get subsidies. Below 100 and you’re eligible for Medicaid, and between 100 and 133 it gets complicated. If your state expanded Medicaid as provided for under the ACA, you will be eligible for Medicaid. Most states run by Democrats and several run by Republicans did enact this expansion. But quite a few states took advantage of the Supreme Court ruling making that expansion optional and did not expand Medicaid. So if you have the misfortune of living in one of those states and your income falls in that 100-133 level, you don’t get the tax subsidies on the exchange or medicaid coverage. I presume the Kaiser tool will help you find out where your state lies on the medicaid expansion, as well.

  • tyrohne

    jesus effing christ on a stick… statist propaganda on petapixel…

  • Scott

    How dare people want affordable healthcare coverage while being self employed.

    And if they have pre-existing conditions they should just roll over and die as they aren’t worth the effort.

    I’m so glad I live in Canada and don’t have to give this stuff a second thought.

  • pgb0517

    Well, I’m glad you live in Canada too, then, friend.

  • pgb0517

    Reads like a press release.

  • FreelanceReporter

    Really? Please delete this! This is wrong. No one can even signup!

  • Langier

    In California where I live, Bronze starts at nearly $6000 per year with about a $6000 a year deductible before I’m left paying 40% of the balance. No coverage is included for my eye health nor dental health nor hearing.

    This scheme doesn’t make healthcare more affordable, it just forces you to buy expensive insurance enforced by the IRS and adds million of words of regulation driving up our medical care.

    Read the fine print and you’ll need medical care!

    It’s twice the price for twice the deductible that I currently have. In the past two years, my existing plan doubled in cost and I expect it to go up again in January.

    So much for the $3500 in savings yearly we were promised, especially if we wanted to become artists and never worry about health care costs ever again…

  • Scott

    We are in agreement then, nice!

    Why do you want your fellow American to suffer if he’s not in a position to pay for healthcare may I ask?

  • Genkakuzai

    Which is why I’m happy to live in a country with universal healthcare (i.e. any modern country other than ‘Murica). I don’t need to buy any insurance at all.

  • Fobama

    Not affordable nor really care. It’s just really expensive insurance that no one can afford. State mandated taxation for crap insurance, nothing more.

  • bill benson

    I live in Rhode Island and I picked and payed. I’m good to go on January 1st, with dental coverage to boot. The website was a bit crashy but I hung in and made it through.

  • Tom

    I’m a freelancer who was had Maternity Coverage taken off of our coverage by my old insurance company after my wife became pregnant. I signed up for Obamacare and my premiums are lower and I have better coverage than I was paying before.

    Private insurance is an abomination and should be done away with entirely in this country and everywhere else.

  • Tom

    I used to think that way until I was bent over and f*cked hard up the a55 by a private insurance company. Now I guess that makes me a Socialist.

  • Tom

    Scott, you need to understand something. The modern Republican party is excellent at convincing people to vote against their own interests.

  • kenyee

    Simplest way for photographers to have good healthcare? Make sure your spouse has a full-time job and sponge off their family health insurance because it most likely will be cheaper once you add in the deductibles :-)

    And LOL at the non-US folks who say they wish everyone had their universal healthcare, but then in other forums gripe that anything they buy in their country is so much more expensive than the US because of VAT…it doesn’t come free ;-)

    But at least in some countries, they limited the max price of drugs…the ACA didn’t limit *any* of the things that are causing increased healthcare costs (drugs, equipment, hospitals, doctors, people using emergency rooms as “free” healthcare) and *added* stuff that should increase costs (the people who were denied healthcare because of terminal conditions) and let the young healthy people (who are supposed to pay for the extra sick people in the system) *opt-out* with a minor $250 penalty (but they can still use emergency rooms).

    The goals were idealistic, but like most govt implemented “solutions”, the implementation is bad…the website is the first obvious mistake of many more to come. They hired a mediocre web development company to build it for $52M (IIRC)…most likely because someone knew someone. And now they’re hiring random private IT companies “all over the country” to fix it for who knows how much more. Obama compared it to a buggy iPhone launch, but this is more like a creaky/leaky/infested/moldy house that bad contractors put up that you’re expected to live in for the next 50yrs because you won’t be able to sell it to someone else…

  • Scott

    They most certainly are and against the interests of the so called ability to start your own business and “build” something. Compared to Canada when it comes to healthcare. :(

    I read an awesome article a year or 2 ago about the whole thing. How it’s predominately republicans that lean on government support and how they believe they deserve them for “working hard” but no one else, specially brown people or liberals deserve them.

    Such a sad state of affairs.

  • snapshot1

    I still can’t figure out if people are lying or telling the truth based on their state’s options when I read things like this online. In NY, specifically NYC where I applied and priced out on the NY version of the ACA website, the Platinum package with dental and ZERO deductible is around $650 a month for the cheapest of the 3-5 companies offering it before subsidies. So this is the full price of the package. Fortunately I’m able to qualify for subsidies enough that I just might select this top package, but still haven’t decided it it because I can get a lower tiered package – still with dental – for far lower a premium – far lower then my car insurance in NYC and some even lower then my cable+internet monthly bill. This platinum package when I went on the same insurance company’s site that offers this package WITHOUT dental on their own is $1900 a month if I was to buy it outside of ACA website.

    So I’m really confused if my situation or NY is a very specific situation or not. Everyone I know that’s had the patience to go through the process in NYC are finding insurance for less than they thought or far less than what they are currently paying now if they were lucky enough to afford insurance to begin with. I’m so curious to find out eventually what the average cost is going to be for the entire country.

  • 3ric15

    …because it is so overwhelmingly popular that the website can’t even handle it.

  • Mike Keller

    Millions have managed to sign up, so I guess things must be working for some. In the meantime, you have three months to get signed up.

  • james

    I pay 40 euro per month…I have a insurance company issued credit card that pays for my prescriptions/doctor/any medical expenses. I never see a bill. Photographer living in France.

  • Courtney Navey

    Seriously? How did this load of BS make it to Petapixel?? The facts couldn’t be more skewed! Here’s how all of this actually plays out from someone who went through all of this garbage just recently.

    I am a healthy 31 yr old male, non-smoker, non-drinker, exercise 3 times a week. My wife and two kids are also in excellent condition. Before Obama-freakin-Care came along we paid Blue Cross $568 a month with a $5,000 deductible. That’s 4 people for $569 a year. I received a letter from BCBS that said due to Obamacare regulations our rate would raise to $1,008.21 a month!! We would keep our deductible at $5K but our premium doubled!! Let’s just be clear. I make $44K before taxes. We have very little debt and two paid off cars.

    So after 7 days of trying to get onto the exchange I was able to log on. Nevermind the random questions like “do you own a gun” which is just Obama’s way of building a national gun registry, which congress voted down last year. I answered all information accordingly and here is what I got.

    We don’t qualify for subsidies…at all. What??? I know, it’s dumb but we don’t.

    For a plan with a $8K-$10K deductible, through the exchange, we would have to pay $929.42 a month!! So wait, our deductible jumped a potential $5K and our rate still almost doubled? If we paid the full $10K deductible through Obamacare and the monthly difference, the exchange would cost us an additional: $14,337.04 a year!! If we just pay the difference with BCBS and the $5K deductible we would spend $10,282.52 in the course of the year.

    So the “Affordable HealthCare Act” would cost us $4,054.52 more if chose the Exchange over the increase BCBS is going to make us pay.

    What wasn’t in this article is how we’re now paying for all of those irresponsible people who don’t take care of themselves due to the high cost of premiums affected by the regulation that someone can’t be refused coverage based on pre-existing conditions. And then we’re all FORCED to have coverage. Spread the wealth around that’s what Karl Marx always said, spread the wealth around. Needless to say all of this has forced me to give up freelancing as 100% of what I do and now forced me into looking for a job who is just crazy enough to offer me health insurance. My freelance dream just became my part time dream and a full time nightmare because of Obamacare. This will kill the small business and the freelancer. And BTW, I’ve designed a lot of websites and never charged my clients $553 BILLION dollars to do so. This site is the biggest waste of tax payer dollars.

    At least we know the folks at Petapixel support a liberal-socialist agenda. One less web address in my bookmarks folder. Petapixel should have stayed neutral on this one. Bad idea guys.

  • Courtney Navey

    um…not popular, mandatory. if you don’t get health coverage you pay a fine…excuse me…tax. they’ve been told the cheapest coverage is on the site…the site that doesn’t work…yet they go there and find out that the coverage isn’t so cheap.

  • john

    I can’t believe our dear Petapixel has been hijacked by the statists. Please take this crap down. Obama rammed this down our throats without a single conservative vote and now this job killer is being pushed by one of my favorite sites. Say it ain’t so!

  • Ssabmud

    “And LOL at the non-US folks who say they wish everyone had their
    universal healthcare, but then in other forums gripe that anything they
    buy in their country is so much more expensive than the US because of
    VAT…it doesn’t come free ;-)”

    Please don’t tell me you’re seriously comparing “buying stuff cheaper” with access to Universal Health Care…

    In the USA you pay taxes that fund schools, community libraries, social security / welfare, the police, the army, firefighters, 911 service… I’ll bet things would be way cheaper if none of these existed too, right?

  • horatio

    What’s health insurance?

    – signed, The Developed World (except USA)

  • Bryan

    Actually the US government paid $94 million to a CANADIAN programming firm to build the website. Even our own government doesn’t care to keep it’s business inside these borders.

  • Sum_it

    Scott, just as Tom mentioned, the greatest trick in politics is to get their constituents to vote against their self interest by using mass media to spoon feed complete lies into the mouths of unsuspecting and/or gullible idiots. Not all of us Americans are that way, I promise.

  • Sum_it

    Actually, if you can demonstrate that available health insurance is in fact, not affordable on your budget, you’ll be waived the fee incurred from refusing coverage.

  • tyrohne

    I’d rather a private company do it so I can take my “business” elsewhere than to have the State (who can do it at the point of a gun) do it.

    Thanks, taker.

  • tyrohne

    Of course not. The “law” is a creation of the state to fix a “problem” that could have been solved through some deregulation (allowing companies to actually compete in the US instead of be made King’s by the kingmaking government). I’m struggling to think of the last time my Canadian friends and business associates suggested I come to Canada for care. I do however know of them coming south and paying out of pocket for even routine things.

  • tyrohne

    because it’s propaganda ;-)

  • Tommy Clark

    ” freelance photographers are in an unfortunate situation. Despite working long hours like everyone else and managing their own business, freelance photographers don’t get the same group rates that regular employees do. There is no question that buying insurance as an individual is more expensive. Which is true unless they can supply it throught the company like what do you do if you work on 5spot craigslist or amazon? Idk i think the health care act should give americans more options..just me or?