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.
I 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 HealthCare.gov’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 HealthCare.gov 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
If 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