What's the best health insurance for freelancers in NYC?

Alyssa Orcuilo09 Mar 2021

Quick digest:

  • There are many benefits to being a self-employed freelancer or contractor - flexible work hours, self-management. But 35% of full-time and part-time independent workers say they're without health insurance. The top reason is because of the high cost.
  • Without insurance, the price for an urgent care visit can vary as much as three times.
  • We put together the ultimate guide to finding self-employed health insurance in NYC- whether you're a contractor, self-employed, or freelancer, this guide will help you find the right option specifically for you.
Guide to chose which plan is best for you

The Best Health Insurance Options in NYC

Individual Exchange Marketplace

The Affordable Care Act is a health care reform law enacted in March 2010 and also referred to as Obamacare. After 2019, the penalty (individual mandate) is no longer in effect. 

A major benefit of the ACA is that it requires all insurance to cover 10 essential health benefits (including mental health, chronic diseases, addiction, etc.). The ACA also allows children to stay on their parent's health insurance plans until they're 26. 

Similar to an employed-sponsored PPO or HMO health plan, there is a designated enrollment period for the ACA so you are not guaranteed to be able to enroll at any given time. It usually begins in November and ends in December. 

Individual monthly premium: 



  • All pre-existing conditions and essential health benefits are always covered
  • Qualified medical expenses are tax-deductible (up to 10% of income)
  • Free preventative care including vaccination and health screenings


  • Insurance premiums are not tax-deductible if you buy it on your own (the case for most freelancers)
  • Can only enroll in November - December, there are exceptions but only for special situations
  • Could be very costly, the average monthly premium for 2020 is $400-$500
  • Very high deductible, averaging >$3000, this means you will have to pay 100% full price before hitting your deductible
2020 ACA individual exchange rates (Mira research)

If You Just Need Occasional Care, Mira May Be A Good Fit

Mira is a membership-based plan for non-hospital medical services. 

For just $45/mo, you'll get affordable copays for unlimited preventative and urgent care. Membership also includes access to MiraRx which allows you to access prescription drugs for up to 80% off and same-day lab testing.

Mira partners with urgent care centers all over NYC so you can go to a center near you. 

Signing up for an account is FREE with Mira and you can activate benefits whenever you need care.

Individual monthly premium:

$25 (paid annually), $45 (paid monthly)


  • Get affordable copays without insurance
  • Unlimited preventative and urgent care
  • A convenient app, no need to search on a third-party platform
  • Low monthly premium, cheaper than your phone bill
  • Could be used on top of a catastrophic health plan


  • Does not cover hospital services like surgeries
  • Does not cover specialists

Learn more

Join a Spouse's or Domestic Partner's Plan

If you have a spouse or domestic partner, you may be eligible to join their group health insurance through their employer. 

Employer-based plans actually may save you money due to the fact they most likely charge a lower premium for dependents, saving you money on alternative plans. 

However, this option may have potential complications if one spouse or partner has significant health problems. 

The healthy spouse or partner may decide to choose a lower-cost plan with a more restrictive provider network and higher out-of-pocket exposure, while the spouse with medical conditions may want to choose a higher-cost plan with a larger provider network and lower out-of-pocket costs.

Individual monthly premium: 

Current premium + $100-$200 increase


  • Companies usually pick up 70-80% of the cost so you pay less
  • Cheaper than buying it through the exchange


  • You need to be in a legal union to qualify as a dependent
  • If you have a chronic condition, it could increase the premiums up to 100%

Get On COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act)

COBRA is a program that allows employees to keep their employer-sponsored health insurance plan when they leave their job in the United States, whether voluntary or not.

This is a great option for those who may have had great health care coverage at their previous job, and would not want to get rid of it. However, it‚s important to know that COBRA coverage is expensive.

When employed, your employer would typically subsidize health coverage for you, in which the cost you would pay isn‚t the full cost of a plan. When choosing COBRA, you will be required to pay the full price of the plan, as well as a 2% administrative fee.

It would then cost hundreds of dollars more a month- making it a short-term option for many. But be sure to track your finances as a freelancer, or contractor, for you could be making enough money to make COBRA worth your while. 

Individual monthly premium: 

$400-$900 (individual)


  • Ability to keep the same plan and the same doctor
  • Convenient, you don't have to shop around


  • Costly, paying 100% of a health plan could be more than a month of rent
  • Sometimes it could cost far more than individual exchange products

COBRA insurance premium for an individual

Join A Union

If you're a freelancer, you may want to consider freelancers union insurance. Freelancers Union is a large organization representing 56.7 million independent workers across the country.

They provide their members with a powerful voice through policy advocacy, benefits, and community. Becoming a member is free- and they offer a variety of insurance options including dental, disability, and accident. 

Individual monthly premium: 



  • Vetted plans with a small discount


  • The product is the same as ones available on the individual exchange
  • Very costly, $400-$500 a month
  • Very high deductible, >$3000

NYC freelancer union

Medical Sharing Plan

Medical sharing plans are religious-affiliated non-insurance alternatives that pool monthly contributions from thousands of members and payout for medical claims. This is one of the fastest-growing health benefits products with over 1M+ members nationally.

There are various medical sharing plans like Christian Ministry Health, Liberty, KnewHealth. Some require you to have a religious notary from a pastor while most just ask for a self-attestation that you under the requirements.

Though medical sharing plans are relatively lower cost compared to insurance plans, they have strict coverage benefits that sometimes exclude pre-existing conditions and diagnoses like cancer and autoimmune diseases.

Instead of paying for your care upfront, most sharing plans require you to pay out-of-pocket and submit the claims to the reimbursed.

Individual monthly premium: 



  • Lower-cost
  • No enrollment period


  • May not cover existing conditions and benefits are not clear what's covered what's not
  • Members have to bear the cost upfront and submit claims to be reimbursed
  • Reimbursement can take up to 90 days

Millennials are leaving health insurance carriers to join the new "CostCo" of healthcare.

"My insurance premiums went up 30% this year. My husband and I switched to Mira and never looked back," said Danna - Brooklyn, NYC