Health Insurance

The Best Health Insurance Options for Freelancers in NYC

Alyssa Corso14 Aug 2021

Many independent workers (35%) go without health insurance because of the high costs associated with premiums. Without insurance, the price for an urgent care visit can vary as much as three times. These numbers are even higher in cities such as New York. Our guide will help you find the right health insurance option specifically for you.

One of those options includes a Mira membership. For just $45/mo, members get access to low co-pays at participating urgent cares, affordable lab testing, and discounted prescriptions. Get covered as soon as today. 

Health Insurance Options for Freelancers in NYC

Freelancers' best health insurance options range between healthcare marketplace insurance plans, joining a spouse or partner’s insurance, or alternative coverage.

“Freelancers, like everyone else, should get health insurance even if they’re young, healthy, and rarely see a doctor. Health insurance can be costly, but uninsured freelancers who have a medical emergency can find themselves with a crippling amount of medical debt,” says Karen Condor, an insurance expert with USInsuranceAgents.com.

Below we outline the pros, cons, and monthly premium for each. 

Individual Exchange Marketplace via NYS of Health

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 After 2019, the penalty (individual mandate) is no longer in effect.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

In New York State, enrollment depends on which program you are eligible for, based on age, income, and other factors. You can enroll in a Qualified Health Plan during the annual Open Enrollment Period or a Special Enrollment Period if you are eligible.

According to Condor, “freelancers who don’t have the option of getting health insurance through a spouse or domestic partner or an association membership can use the government’s Health Insurance Marketplace and see if they qualify for premium tax credits and other savings. These subsidies can greatly reduce the monthly payment.”

Individual monthly premium: $435-$671

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • Insurance premiums are not tax-deductible if you buy it on your own (the case for most freelancers)
  • You can only enroll in November - December; there are exceptions but only for special situations.
  • It 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

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. 

Get Mira - Healthcare you can afford.

Get doctor visits, lab tests, prescription, and more. Affordable copays. Available 35+ states.

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

Individual monthly premium: Current premium + $100-$200 increase

Pros:

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

Cons:

  • 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%

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 an option for those who had great health care coverage at their previous job and would not want to get rid of it. 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)

Pros:

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

Cons:

  • Paying 100% of a health plan could be very expensive
  • Sometimes it could cost far more than individual exchange products

Alternative Healthcare

Many freelancers find health insurance to be unaffordable and unpredictable. However, there are alternative options to health insurance. 

Mira is a membership-based plan for non-hospital medical services. At $45/mo, you'll get affordable copays for unlimited preventative and urgent care. Membership also includes MiraRx, which allows you to access prescription drugs for up to 80% off and same-day lab testing.

Sign up within minutes, and you can activate benefits whenever you need care.

Individual monthly premium: $25 (paid annually), $45 (paid monthly)

Pros:

  • Get affordable copays without insurance
  • Unlimited preventative and urgent care
  • A convenient app, no need to search on a third-party platform
  • It could be used on top of a catastrophic health plan

Cons:

  • It does not cover hospital services like surgeries
  • It does not cover specialists

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.

Healthcare for 80% less

Get affordable copays. Plans start at $25/month.

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. 

According to Condor, “freelancers can look into association health plans (AHPs) in relation to their profession. For example, health insurance plans are available through the Freelancers Union. They could also become a member in other professional associations that offer access to group health plans. Freelancers can also check with their local Chamber of Commerce”. 

Individual monthly premium: $400-$500+

Pros:

  • Vetted plans with a small discount

Cons:

  • The product is the same as ones available on the individual exchange
  • It can be a costly option
  • High deductibles

Medical Cost Sharing Plans

Medical sharing plans are typically religious-affiliated non-insurance alternatives that pool monthly contributions from thousands of members and payout for medical claims. 

Though medical sharing plans are relatively cheaper than 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 up front, most sharing plans require you to pay out-of-pocket and submit the claims to the reimbursed.

Alice Stevens, Senior Editor at Best Company, says, “[Healthcare sharing ministries] don't offer the same kind of coverage that Affordable Care Act plans do; they can cover more things than some other plan options do. Keep in mind that health care sharing ministries aren't the same as insurance, expect members to keep a low-risk lifestyle, and are typically associated with religious groups. Before joining, make sure you understand what's covered.”

Individual monthly premium: $150-$300

Pros:

  • Lower-cost
  • No enrollment period

Cons:

  • 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

The Bottom Line

35% of full-time and part-time independent workers say they're without health insurance. While it can be difficult to find an affordable health insurance option as a freelancer, there are certainly options (including alternative ones) to get covered in the event you need it. Even if you only need occasional care, it can be costly to pay out-of-pocket, especially in the case of an emergency. Mira is just $45/mo, with low co-pays, discounted prescriptions, and affordable lab testing. Start your coverage today