Being a freelance photographer means always staying on top of things. You have to get to certain places at certain times, take care of your equipment and make sure your software is up to date among other things. But, have you been staying on top of your health insurance options? It is no secret that freelancers end up paying more money than a lot of other people on this front.
Thankfully, it looks like things might be turning around because of the Affordable Care Act, or ACA. If you haven't heard how this legislation is going to help you as a freelancer, you are missing out. A number of the plan's refinements to the healthcare system are great news for freelancers such as yourself. If you want to learn more about these changes and how you can get an affordable plan, read on.
Better Benefits, Better Plans
One of the most clear cut ways that the ACA is improving healthcare is through its mandated essential health benefits. These are ten categories of medical benefits that every plan will have to offer under the law. Even if you think that a cheap plan is your only option, the essential health benefits might not make it so bad. If you want to take a peek at what they are, visit this list at Healthcare.gov‘s glossary. Now, you have to be aware that these are categories of benefits, not exact medical services. What I mean by this is that the law does not actually list what medical services fall into these categories. The individual states are responsible for figuring those out.
A Range Of Coverage
Now that you know what the plans offer, it is time to look at the plans themselves. Most of the states have allowed their health insurance exchanges to be run by the federal government. The federal health insurance exchange can be found at Healthcare.gov. To see if your state runs its own exchange, take a look at the Kaiser Family Foundation‘s list here.
The exchanges have plans broken up into four levels known as Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Bronze plans have the lowest premium, but also pay for the lowest percentage of medical costs. The Platinum plans fill in the other end of the spectrum, giving more coverage of costs for a higher premium. The Gold and Silver plans help even things out by giving you some middle ground options.
What's The Deal With Tax Subsidies?
As long as you make between 100 percent and 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Line, you stand to receive a potentially hefty federal health insurance subsidy on your exchange plan. The actual amount of the subsidy varies widely across that range of FPL and is calculated based on a number of different factors. It can't be said for sure exactly how much money you’ll save on your plan's premium, but the Kaiser Family Foundation‘s subsidy calculator can help you get a number to help with your planning.
Learn More And Make The Right Choice
Before you jump into things and make a purchase, you have to take a step back. Don't go and buy an actual plan until you know how much money you have spent in the past on medical bills and health insurance. This way, you can actually have a reference point when you are comparing costs. Next, make sure to ask yourself what exactly you need from your plan. Conditions that you and your family have, as well as your overall health, should be taken into account.
As open enrollment on the marketplace will continue for a while (until March 2014), it might be best to wait and do some more research on the ACA. The more information you have on this complex law, the easier it will be to choose a plan. You may want to think about talking to a licensed insurance broker. They know this thing better than just about anyone. When you finally think you have a good handle on the ACA, make your choice.
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
So that Tiffinbox does provide its audience at least two opposing viewpoints of this rather contentious topic, I'm inviting one of you to step in and guest blog an article about the Affordable Care Act's weaknesses. If you are interested, pitch me the post using the guest blogging form.