Health Insurance

Where Can I Get Affordable Health Care as a Bartender?

Michelle Fleming
Michelle Fleming2 Dec 2022

Since bartenders make most of their money through tips, they are rarely offered insurance from their employers unless it is a big company. Thus, you may be responsible for finding your health insurance, whether it is just for you or your family. Knowing your options and needs will help you find the best way to get health care without breaking the bank.

Health Care for Bartenders

Bartenders aren't the only ones who may find themselves in this situation. Those who are self-employed, freelancers, and anyone without health insurance can find themselves in the same position when looking for health coverage. There are options to buy health coverage plans through marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act. Still, they may be expensive, especially if you want insurance for your entire family. Depending on your household income, you may qualify for tax credits, which may help you afford federal or state marketplace plans. But there are multiple other options to get health care, so let’s discuss them.

Federal Marketplace or State Exchange

Open enrollment for health insurance has opened as of November 1, 2022, and will run through January 15, 2023. Depending on your state, your state may use its health insurance exchange or the federal health insurance marketplace. These health coverage plans are available through the Affordable Care Act.

The marketplace allows you to browse various health plans based on the insurance company, metal tier, and premium or deductible amounts. You can input your household information, including income and health needs, and whether you want individual or family coverage. Since the application through the marketplace requires you to estimate your yearly income, it may be hard to estimate since income varies greatly for bartenders.


Medicaid is a federal and state-funded program that provides insurance to low-income individuals and families, making it either free or low-cost and more affordable. There are mandatory benefits that states are required to provide, which include essential services. There are other optional benefits that states can choose to provide as well. You can check if you qualify based on your income, or you may be eligible for different reasons. Medicaid does not have an open enrollment period; you can apply any time of the year.

United States Bartender Guild (USBG) National Charity Foundation

The USBG National Charity Foundation was established to help those in the bartending industry in any way possible. This help includes basic financial assistance, help to pay medical bills or prescriptions, and even access to food. While the foundation does not act as an insurance program, it offers an alternative you can turn to in times of financial need.

The foundation offers the Bartender Emergency Assistance Program (BEAP), where you can apply for financial assistance during an unforeseen emergency. This includes accidents, acute medical diagnoses, etc. This is an option if you have an emergency medical issue that you cannot afford to pay for, as you may qualify for this grant for help.

The foundation also offers the Helen David Relief Fund (HDRF) for those fighting breast cancer and other forms of cancer. You can apply for financial assistance through this fund to help pay for medical bills you may receive while undergoing cancer treatment.

The USBG Charity Foundation website offers a list of resources available to you to find assistance with medical care, hospital bills, and prescription medications. While health insurance is not available through the foundation, its initiatives can provide financial aid in times of medical need.

Parent or Spouse’s Plan

Under the Affordable Care Act, your parents can add you to their insurance plan if you are under 26, or your spouse can add you to their plan. Both options will increase the monthly premium amount. Discuss if either would be an affordable option with your parents or spouse.

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Full-Time Student Options

If you are a full-time student, your college or university may offer health insurance options to you, along with prescriptions in-network. Check with your college or university to determine eligibility and look through available plan options.


Mira is a health insurance alternative and provides flexible and affordable health coverage offering discounted urgent care and primary care visits at just $99. You also receive same-day lab work and discounted rates for over 1,000 prescriptions. 1 out of 5 members uses Mira in addition to a high deductible or catastrophic health plan. You may save over $1000 yearly on medical expenses by using Mira for your basic healthcare needs. Based on your plan duration, membership averages between $25-$60 a month. You can sign up and get coverage today, and it’s as simple as that.

How to make ACA health plan more affordable for you.

If you would prefer an ACA health plan but can't afford it, there are some of the options below. They are worth looking into and seeing if you qualify or use an HSA and an HDHP together.

Premium Tax Credits

Premium tax credits lower the monthly insurance payment (premium). You will qualify for tax credits if your income falls between 100% and 400% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). If you use more than you are given, you will have to repay the difference when you file your taxes. If you use less than you are given, you will get the difference as a refundable credit when you file your taxes. When browsing through plans, you can see if you qualify for tax credits after inputting your estimated income.

Cost-Sharing Reductions

Cost-sharing reductions lower the cost of ACA health plans. You can qualify if your income falls into a certain range and you will be able to pay less out-of-pocket when you receive medical services. You will have a lower deductible, copayment, coinsurance, or out-of-pocket maximum. However, you must pick a silver metal tier plan, as these reductions only apply to such plans. When browsing through plans, you can see if you qualify for these cost reductions.

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Health Savings Account (HSA) with a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP)

A health savings account (HSA) is an account that helps lower health insurance costs. It lets you use tax-exempt money to pay for deductibles, co-payments, co-insurance, etc. These can only be used if you have a high deductible health plan (HDHP), so you will know whether your chosen plan is HSA eligible when browsing through them.

Health Insurance and Care for Bartenders Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Below are some frequently asked questions about health insurance and health care.

Why Should I Have Health Insurance?

No one plans to get hurt or sick and get medical bills. A reliable health insurance plan provides financial protection for you and your family in the case of an emergency. It also allows you to get free preventive care and pay less overall since it covers essential health benefits. Having health insurance is an investment in your health and your future.

What If I Miss the Open Enrollment Period?

If you miss the open enrollment period for signing up for an ACA health plan through the federal marketplace or your state exchange, you can check if you qualify for the special enrollment period. If you have experienced certain life events, such as losing health insurance, getting married, etc., you may qualify to enroll in a plan. There is also the option of checking whether you qualify for Medicaid, which you can enroll in at any time.

How Can I Make Sure My Family is Covered?

When you sign up for an ACA health plan, you can find health plans that ensure your family is covered as well- you will be asked for your household size and information when you apply. If you want a grant from the USBG Charity Foundation, they provide grants for your spouse or child in need when necessary. Mira offers both individual and family plans, so you can also ensure they have access to health care.

Bottom Line

As a bartender, you will likely have to find a way to get health coverage since you usually will not be offered health insurance through your employer. There are multiple options to find affordable health plans under the Affordable Care Act by browsing the marketplace and seeing if you qualify for savings or Medicaid. There are health insurance alternatives, such as grants from the USBG Charity Foundation or a care membership plan such as Mira. It is essential to be aware of your options and needs to figure out what works best for you.

If you’re looking for a more affordable alternative to health insurance, Mira might be an excellent fit. For an average of $45 per month, members get access to low-cost urgent care visits, affordable lab testing, and discounted prescriptions at up to 80% off. Sign up today and start saving on healthcare.

Michelle Fleming

Michelle Fleming is a sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin majoring in Public Health, focusing on biostatistics and informatics and minoring in Health Communications. Michelle is passionate about bridging the gap in health inequalities through advocacy and policy, especially within minority groups.