Health Insurance and the Web Worker

For web workers, and anyone self-employed, obtaining affordable and comprehensive health insurance is one of our biggest challenges. Don’t put it off…you never know when a catastrophic illness or accident will affect you or your family. Last night in his State of the Union address, President Bush introduced a plan to try and make it easier for individuals who don’t have insurance through employers to get covered. Without getting political, is it enough? Depending on where you live, Individual market health insurance for a family of four can cost $1,000 per month or more, and typically offer higher deductibles and less benefits than group-purchased plans through an employer.

While we watch this insurance-reform-through-the-tax-code wind its way through the political process, there are some resources online to help us make insurance decisions today. Apologies to our international readership, this post only applies to web workers living in the United States. If you live outside the US, and have tips to share, please leave a comment.

Steve Case’s new Revolution Health website, currently in public preview, has some helpful and clear information available on the subject. Read GigaOm’s coverage of Revolution Health here.

You enter your zip code and some data about yourself and the members of your family you want to cover, and the site clearly lays out plans that may be available. Unfortunately, the comparison service does not currently work in HI, WV, VT, RI, ME, OR, MN, MA or NY. If you live in a searchable state, it serves as a good starting point. Results may vary. For my own zip code, only one provider’s plans were listed. This is similar to other insurance search/comparison sites such as ehealthinsurance.com. Revolution Health will be adding broker services this year. In the meantime, the site’s educational articles on insurance are very easy to read and understand.

The State Coverages Initiatives website has a great deal of information on specific insurance programs that may be available in your state, including group purchasing arrangements for the self-employed and small business owner. Don’t miss their state coverage matrix which lists options state-by-state.

The Health Insurance Resource Center is another easy-to-understand site with a special section to address the needs of the self-employed.

You might want to look at the associations and professional organizations you belong to. Many are connected to local brokers who may offer discounts for members, or they may be purchasing association health insurance directly. Look for larger organizations that serve a local audience, such as a Chamber of Commerce. Step cautiously, as there have been some scandals with disreputable companies here. Check credentials, and talk to others.

Once you’ve found an acceptable insurance policy, talk to your accountant about the tax implications. Did you know that if you’re self-employed (and turning a profit), you can deduct up to 100% of your insurance premiums on your return?

AllFreelance.com has compiled some resources for getting quotes and information on health insurance for the self-employed.

There are a lot of issues around insurance that are too complicated to cover here. Do your homework and talk to brokers and other professionals. Revolution Health has some tips here. Don’t rely on the Internet alone to answer all your questions.

Web workers, how are you handling the challenge of health insurance? Do you think the President’s new plan will help?

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