Health Insurance for Freelance Designers

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| February 6, 2008

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If you’ve been paying attention to the current US presidential campaigns, you’ve probably aware that “47 million Americans are living without health insurance.” If you’re a freelance designer, you may very well be one of those people.

I know lots of freelancers who take their chances and go without health insurance. One of them now owes $30,000 in hospital bills due to some unexpected surgery. Now in all likelihood, that won’t happen to you, but perhaps you’re feeling some pain in your wrist, or maybe you’re just don’t want to get too close to that friend with strep throat.

Many freelance designers forgo health insurance because most individual plans are incredibly expensive. It’s a valid decision, especially if you’ve been waiting months for a client to pay for that big logo job.

Still, you may be surprised at how many health insurance options, including discount plans, are available to the self-employed. If you’re thinking about getting some coverage, these are the places where you’ll find the best deals.

Your local chamber of commerce. If you provide design services to local businesses, you should already be a member of the chamber of commerce. It’s a great networking opportunity, and members of most chambers are eligible for group health insurance that comes at steep discounts.

Professional groups. If you belong to any professional associations for small business owners, designers, or freelancers, you should ask about group health insurance. Many of these organizations have direct access to discounted plans or partnerships with other entities that do. For example, the Graphic Artists Guild offers group rates in 28 states.

Your accountant. If your accountant works mostly with freelancers, he or she may have some recommendations. In fact, any professional or colleague who regularly interacts with members of the freelance community might be a good source information. It’s common sense, and it never hurts to ask!

The state. Health insurance is a state government issue, and some states have mandates that guarantee the availability of low-cost plans. Massachusetts, for example, requires that all its citizens be insured, so many low-cost plans have been made available through big-name carriers in the area. Visit your state’s website for more information. All the web address you need are listed here.

Your former employer. If you had health insurance while employed a short time ago, you might still have access to “COBRA” coverage via your former employer. Contact the company for the requisite info and forms. This is not, however, a low-cost option. You’ll have to pay full price for the insurance instead of the small amount you probably paid on a monthly basis while employed. Still, it’s a great way to avoid a lapse in coverage while you’re shopping around for a better plan, and it’ll keep you covered for at least a few appointments should you need to get something taken care of soon.

It’s hard to set aside money for something you never want to need, but a little research can save you a big amount and make the idea more manageable.

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