Reader Q&A: Health Insurance for Freelance Writers

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Wade Finnegan asks:

How do freelance writers afford health insurance? Are there group plans for freelancers?

I’ll be honest, the high cost of health insurance here in the States is one of several reasons why I keep a full-time corporate job in addition to my freelance writing business. While some freelancers have the luxury of getting insurance through a spouse, the rest are left to make some tough decisions.

Plenty of freelancers opt for high-deductible plans that really only cover them when things turn catastrophic.  Going this route can make monthly premiums manageable, but it’s not terribly helpful or reassuring.

There actually are some group plans available if you’re affiliated with the right organizations and you’re lucky enough to live in the right state.

The Freelancers Union offers some group health, dental, disability and life insurance plans. They even offer 401(k) retirement options for members. The details vary by state, though. For instance, a group health plan is not available for me in Indiana at all, and dental premiums in my state would run me more than $50 per month. That’s way more than the cost of 2 regular check-ups and x-rays if you do the math. So if I was shopping, I’d be inclined to just go without unless I was planning some major dental work. And even then, “major services are not covered for the first 12 months you are enrolled.”

Addy Dugdale (who’s not from the U.S., by the way) wrote an interesting article for Fast Company almost two years ago now about freelance health insurance. In it she interviews five different freelancers in America about the state of health care for the self-employed, each freelancer with a different perspective. So far, things haven’t changed a whole lot on the health care front, and the article is still relevant on so many levels.

It’s a frustrating situation for a lot of freelance writers, and it’s one more reason why setting the right fees for our work is so important.

If you’re a freelancer, how do you handle the health insurance conundrum?

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