I pay $400 a month for health insurance as a freelancer, and I wouldn’t give it up for coverage from a full-time job

I pay $400 a month for health insurance as a freelancer, and I wouldn't give it up for coverage from a full-time job
Laura Wheatman Hill headshot
The author, Laura Wheatman Hill.

Courtesy of Laura Wheatman Hill

  • I pay about $400 a month for my health insurance as a freelancer.
  • It’s worth it to me because I have mental health care coverage; I pay just a $10 copay for therapy.
  • I would hesitate to accept an employer plan that didn’t cover mental health in the same way.

I’m self-employed and pay for my healthcare via the marketplace. The first year after my divorce, because my tax return showed my household income from when I was married, I had to pay the full fee, which was a bummer and a big financial strain. This year, I was able to qualify for some aid and it has helped immensely, but I still pay over $300 a month for medical, $25 a month for vision, and varying amounts per month for copays and prescription fees depending on need.

I opted not to get dental insurance since it didn’t cover much and I generally have healthy teeth. I budget at least $1,000 a year for routine dental care. I could try to find a cheaper dentist or go to the local dental school for care, but I have some dental anxiety and like my hygienist, who covers me with a warm blankie, gives me headphones, and turns on “Schitt’s Creek” for me while she cleans my teeth. I tell myself skipping an anxiety attack is worth the money. 

I chose a high-tier plan for its mental health coverage

I chose a pretty high-tier plan with a low deductible because of its mental health coverage. If going to therapy is covered, it’s worth it. I see a therapist weekly with only a $10 copay and see my prescriber once a month for a $20 copay; $60 a month for five hours of care is a steal. Technically it’s $400 a month since I pay the premium, prescription prices, and copays, but that’s still better than paying out of pocket completely and frees me from guilt about prioritizing my mental health.

Conversely, as per our parenting agreement, my kids are on my ex’s marketplace plan, one that costs him much less per month per person, but we pay way more to hit the deductible on specialists in the mental health sphere. So, while I don’t pay for their insurance, I budget my share of the deductible and out-of-pocket max for their healthcare as well. 

Why I’d hesitate to take a health insurance plan from an employer

I would be nervous to take a health plan if I ever got a staff job that doesn’t cover what my current plan covers. Over the years, it’s been a nightmare when our insurance has changed and we’ve had to find new providers. Providers have also dropped our insurance, usually but not always giving us enough notice to get a new provider set up or choose a new plan that includes them before the enrollment period is over. 

Healthcare absolutely should be universal, in my opinion. For my kids it’s very necessary to see specialists and those should be included as well. Mental health care, which in many cases is preventive and can decrease someone’s medical expenses over time, should be covered across the board, no matter the plan. Sadly, that’s not the reality, so, as a freelancer on a budget, I plan ahead and keep detailed records.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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