Healthcare for Freelancers: Questions and Answers

This open enrollment season, we asked our friends at Catch to give you a rundown of your options and answer some of the most common questions freelancers have around health insurance.

By Catch Insurance • Dec 13, 2021

For freelancers, just the thought of getting health insurance can trigger an anxiety attack. How do I get one? Should I even get one? How do I get the most for my buck since I’m paying all of it out of pocket? This open enrollment season, we asked our friends at Catch to give you a rundown of your options and answer some of the most common questions you probably have.

Why You Should Get Health Insurance 

Health insurance gives you some control over unpredictable costs that come along with your health. No matter how well you take care of yourself, your future health isn’t guaranteed. That means the cost of getting or staying healthy can be hard to predict. Even if you haven’t needed any medical care in the past, that can change from an accidental injury or unexpected illness. 

It’s helpful to break this down into real world scenarios. Take Emily, who is deciding between a health insurance policy with a $1,500 deductible and 20% coinsurance or going without health insurance for the year. If Emily unexpectedly breaks her leg attempting the latest TikTok challenge, she’d likely pay $7,500 out of pocket, but only $750 if she had gotten covered. Or, say Emily decides to have a child this year. Without health insurance, she could be on the hook for $20,000 or more in prenatal and delivery costs, even without complications or a c-section. With insurance, this cost drops to $3,800. 

Not convinced by the hypothetical? The facts are more sobering. In America, the average surprise medical bill is $2-3k and emergency medical costs account for 62% of all personal bankruptcies filed in America. Even more worrisome, the majority of Americans are unable to cover emergency medical expenses over $1k.

All in all, getting covered is never a bad idea. 

How You Can Afford It

While getting healthcare prevents you from these surprise expenses, it does require paying monthly premiums. For many, the fear of paying costly premiums is what prevents them from getting the coverage they need. 

The good news is that there are tax credits available that can make the monthly cost of health insurance significantly more affordable (if not altogether free). In fact, it is estimated that in the last two years, approximately 5 million Americans could have gotten health insurance without paying a single penny in monthly premiums, but didn’t. This year, there are even more opportunities for tax subsidies – the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimates that about half of all Americans who get new marketplace plans will receive premiums for $10 or less. While it might seem complicated to apply for tax credits, it’s not – if you apply for health insurance through Catch, we will find the tax credits you qualify for and automatically apply them.

Even if your monthly premiums can be made more affordable, using your health insurance can be expensive too. Deductibles, copayments and coinsurance can all add up, making your health insurance expensive to use. Luckily, you may also qualify for Cost Sharing Reductions (CSR’s), also known as “Extra Savings.” When you apply for health insurance with Catch, you’ll enter information about your household and your expected income. If your income is below a certain level, you may qualify for Cost Sharing Reductions (CSR’s) or “Extra Savings” on certain plans. Catch calculates this for you, and like the premiums, will automatically apply them. 

Also note that as a self-employed individual, your health insurance premiums are tax deductible as an above the line deduction.

What You’ll Get

All of the plans you can enroll in via Catch and its partners are Qualified Health Plans. This means all plans are ACA-compliant and cover essential health benefits (EHB), including:

  • Ambulatory patient services (visits to doctors and other healthcare professionals and outpatient hospital care)
  • Emergency services
  • Hospitalization
  • Maternity and newborn care
  • Mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment
  • Prescription drugs
  • Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices
  • Laboratory services
  • Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management
  • Pediatric services, including oral and vision care

Plans are divided into different levels called metal tiers: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Plans are grouped based on the amount of medical costs that are covered for the average person. Importantly, metal tiers do not mean the quality of healthcare is better or worse – it’s just about the coverage. Bronze plans have the lowest monthly cost, but covers the least amount of medical costs for the average person. 

  • Bronze – covers 60% on average of your medical costs; you pay 40%
  • Silver – covers 70% on average of your medical costs; you pay 30%
  • Gold – covers 80% on average of your medical costs; you pay 20%
  • Platinum – covers 90% on average of your medical costs; you pay 10%

If you have more questions about what you’ll pay (e.g. deductibles, co-pays, HMOs vs. PPOs, etc, check out Catch’s health resource center. 

Why This Matters Right Now

As a freelancer, open Enrollment, which starts November 1st and runs until January 15th, is the only time you can enroll in a new plan, make changes to your plan, or renew your current plan for the new year. While some might be able to switch their plan outside of this period if they have a qualifying life event (like getting married, having a baby, or moving states), for most people, Open Enrollment is the only time to get coverage for the following year. 

Get Started Today

Ready to get covered? Have questions? Start here  and put in some basic info. Catch will give you personalized recommendations and let you know what your savings can be. 

Written by
Catch Insurance

Catch Insurance helps freelancers find the health coverage they need.

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