Your physical and mental well-being often takes a backseat to your business. But it doesn’t have to. We invited Stride Health’s Dexter Hill Schmidt and Leesa Renée Hall, creator of Inner Field Trip, to help us bust some myths about the often-confusing world of health insurance as an independent creator, and to share strategies for tackling burnout.*
Finding affordable health insurance can be a major challenge for independent creators in the U.S., but healthcare is an essential consideration. No matter who you are or how you earn a living, health insurance can be a major tool for supporting your physical health and mental well-being.
Choosing a plan that’s right for you can feel overwhelming and stressful in the short-run, but will pay dividends when it comes to day-to-day care and emergencies. It’s also a huge step in the right direction for safeguarding your overall mental health and protecting yourself against possible burnout. It’s time to set aside the health insurance headaches, as we bust some myths and walk you through the best way to get support for your overall health and well-being.
MYTH 1: It’s impossible to find health insurance as an independent creator
Although health insurance is typically handled through employers in the U.S., it’s universally accessible for everyone, and recently, private health insurance for independent creators has become more affordable, of higher quality, and easier to get than ever before. As for where to enroll, there are a few options:
MYTH 2: Picking a plan is stressful
There’s no point sugarcoating it — picking a health insurance plan is tough. But understanding how plans are categorized can help you filter through them and pick the best plan. The two main ways of differentiating plans are:
HMOs (health maintenance organizations) $
EPOs (exclusive provider organization) $$
PPOS (preferred provider organization) $$$
Metal tiers differ based on how the cost of healthcare services are split between you and your insurer. They are named in order of the precious metals: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. The fancier the metal, the more coverage you get, and the more you pay.
Choosing the right plan can be tricky. To get the right answer, you’ll need to be thinking about your financial situation, your best guess on how much care you need next year, and your risk profile.
MYTH 3: Health insurance without an employer is unaffordable
Your health insurance premium will be unique to you, and is based on your ZIP code, your taxable household size and your income. But the majority of Americans can find a plan for under $10 a month, even without an employer.
To get a more accurate, affordable plan estimate, deduct eligible business expenses from your income. Subtracting all business expenses, such as studio rental, editing software, or project management tools will generate your adjusted gross income. With that number, you will likely qualify for even greater subsidy amounts and a cheaper plan from the federal government. With the implementation of The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the odds you qualify for a cheaper plan have never been higher.
MYTH 4: You can’t change your plan during the year
In most cases, you do need to change or enroll in a plan during Open Enrollment, the big health insurance season, which takes place between November 1 and December 15 every year. It’s the best time to make switches, change to a different plan or enroll for the first time. But it’s not the only time you can enroll. You may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period in the middle of the year, which would allow you to change plans or enroll in a new plan. Check out the Stride blog for more details about qualifying events or health insurance in general.
MYTH 5: I can’t afford my premiums if I can’t work
Paying for your monthly premiums if you’re not working and not earning an income is not easy. But purchasing disability insurance, as well as health insurance, can supplement your income if ever you were to fall sick or get injured.
There are two types:
MYTH 6: I’ll waste money if I never use my plan
Health insurance is a medical and financial safety net, and will help you recover if something bad happens. Whether it’s worth it is a question only you can answer for yourself. But here are some pros and cons to help you decide.
MYTH 7: Mental health isn’t covered by health insurance providers
Thankfully, the Affordable Care Act, which was passed in 2010, required all health insurance plans to cover some mental health, substance abuse and behavioral services. It also enforced cost parity, which means plans cannot charge you more for mental health services than they do for other benefits on the plan (this includes preventative care). Even better, all plans also offer free autism screenings for children, and free depression, tobacco and alcohol misuse screenings for adults and teenagers.
MYTH 8: Burnout is a natural part of life as a creator
Creators and creative business people are particularly susceptible to burnout because the reward is always changing. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Anti-bias facilitator and Patreon creator Leesa Renée Hall has experienced burnout several times, and she offers some excellent guidance on preventing burnout, as well as easing it when it happens.
Her approach is to take a break from her social media sites, and from checking the notifications page of her Patreon community. “As creators we are more than the numbers,” she explains. “The numbers tell us if we’re growing, but if we assign our identity to those numbers, that’s going to impact our mental wellness.” So how can you develop a better relationship with your stats?
Where are you on your health journey? Connect with like-minded creators and members of the Patreon Team on our Official Patreon Discord.
*This post is intended to summarize and highlight material presented as part of Patreon’s #OwnYourGrowth workshop series, and is not intended as financial, business, or legal advice from Patreon.
This content was originally published here.