You”re self-employed. So, where do you go to find health insurance?
Here are some places to look:
If your spouse carries health insurance through his employer, generally you can be covered under his policy.
You can readily buy individual coverage on the internet, from insurance agents, and Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
The conventional wisdom is that coverage under individual plans is more expensive than group plans. While that is true most of the time, if you are healthy and relatively young you may get a good deal through the individual market and you will have your widest set of options.
Individual plans are medically underwritten, meaning that your medical history will be reviewed before the insurer extends and sets the terms of your coverage. If you have significant health problems the company may impose a waiting period for the preexisting conditions, charge a higher premium or refuse to insure you at all.Where to find health insurance when you want group coverage.
You”re options are more limited because in most states you need a minimum of two people on the payroll to create a group.
So you”ll have to be a member of a group that already offers health insurance. If you don”t belong to an association that offers group insurance, look into a local chamber of commerce. Many offer group insurance to their members plus you can do some networking at the same time.
It is a good practice to contact your state”s Insurance Department to make certain that plan you”re considering is issued by an organization licensed by your state.
Because many plans sponsored by associations are multi-state, it”s worth paying a visit to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) website, www.naic.org/consumer. It has consumer information about many insurance plans.
If you live or work in New York City, group coverage is available through Working Today (workingtoday.org). And the NASE, National Association of Self Employed offers health insurance also.
As with any plan, check these out thoroughly and read the fine print.
Where to find health insurance when you already have health problems
If you already have significant health problems, you may face a waiting period or outright exclusion for pre-existing conditions or find coverage to be more expensive.
There are some options.
If you are becoming self-employed because you are losing a job with an employer who is providing you with health insurance coverage, you can continue your existing coverage for up to eighteen months under COBRA.
If you are HIPAA eligible you may be able to buy some insurance policies in the individual insurance market without any preexisting conditions waiting periods.
To be HIPAA eligible you must have exhausted COBRA or had 18 months of creditable coverage, have had no breaks in coverage exceeding 63 consecutive days, are not eligible for any other continuation or group coverage, and have not lost group coverage because of fraud or failure to pay premiums.
The moral of this story is, if you fall under HIPAA protection, and you have a preexisting condition, hang onto insurance coverage at all costs.
Some states offer ï¿½high-riskï¿½ insurance pools for people turned down for coverage because of health reasons.
And some states require some or all insurers to offer individual health policies on a guaranteed renewal basis. That means you can”t be turned down for your individual health problems.
Nonetheless, you may still be subject to waiting periods for your preexisting conditions and/or high premiums.
Lastly, if your income is low enough you may be able to get coverage at little or no cost for you and/or your children under Medicaid (www.cms.hhs.gov/medicaid/statemap.asp) and the State Children”s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). (www.cms.hhs.gov/schip/statemap.asp)
These are some places where to find health insurance coverage.