Summary:

oDesk, the online marketplace for freelancers, has made its group health benefits available to everyone using the service. The company had previously offered benefits to freelancers through oDesk Staffing, but that required members to bill a minimum of 30 hours per week through oDesk.

oDesk, the online marketplace for freelancers, has now made its group health benefits program available to everyone using the service.

The company had previously offered benefits such as group health insurance and 401(k) retirement plans to freelancers through oDesk Staffing, but that required members to bill a minimum of 30 hours per week through the oDesk system. The new benefits plans — made available through a partnership with NetBenefits Plus — provide health insurance to everyone with an oDesk account; there’s no minimum hours billed requirement.

There are three different plans available:

  • Wellness Plan. With an oDesk User ID, coverage issuance is guaranteed. There is an annual benefit limit of $20,000, and the plan starts at $210/month
  • Catastrophic Plan. Covers all costs after the first $10,000 and is designed to cover major medical care, including hospitalization. This plan starts at $140/month. Note that coverage issuance is not guaranteed on this plan — there’s a standard six-question application and phone interview.
  • Comprehensive Plan. Combines the Wellness Plan and $1 million of catastrophic coverage for a more complete coverage option. This plan starts at $280/month. Note that coverage issuance is not guaranteed on this plan — there’s a standard six-question application and phone interview.

It’s worth noting that these new plans look to be more expensive than the oDesk Staffing plan, and don’t offer its additional benefits, such as 401(k) plans, W-2 tax filing and dental coverage. However, oDesk Staffing’s requirement to bill a minimum of 30 hours per week through oDesk will exclude many freelancers. The new benefits plans are open to all, which may tempt more people to leave the reassurance regular employment provides and take up freelancing — presumably one of the reasons why oDesk is providing these plans.

Would oDesk’s new benefits plans tempt you to leave regular employment?

Photo courtesy stock.xchng user je1196

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