If you’re self employed, you may think of health insurance as a luxury. When you’re barely making ends meet, paying several hundred dollars a month for something you may not need isn’t a priority. Or maybe you can’t find a health insurance company to insure you because of a pre-existing condition. If you have no health insurance, you’re banking on the hope that you won’t get sick. But if you do, your business suffers.
If you can’t get individual health insurance, or if the premiums are out of reach for an individual policy, there are a number of ways to get cheap and discount health insurance and health care.
Look Into State Subsidized Programs
Many states offer discount premiums for low income families and self employed business owners. Others have set up ‘risk pools’ that make your health care costs cheaper by spreading the risk throughout a ‘pool’ of people much like employers do with group plans.
Check with your state Health and Human Services office to see what health insurance discounts may be available to you based on your income. In most states, the income eligibility standards are quite high, especially in states that offer assistance for premiums with private health plans. You can get a substantial discount on family plans by joining a state health insurance plan.
Join a Discount Health Care Plan
Many organizations have worked out special discount rates with health insurance companies for their members. You may find discounts on health care and health insurance through your Chamber of Commerce, Small Businessmen’s Association, even AAA auto clubs or fraternal organizations.
Another option is a discount medical club. For a monthly fee – usually about $30, you’re eligible for discounts of up to 25% off regular costs for office visits, medical supplies and prescriptions as long as you use participating member vendors. Check online to find a discount medical club that has members near you.
Itemize Your Taxes
As of 2003, if you itemize your taxes, you can deduct 100% of your health insurance cost for the year from your taxes. There are limits and restrictions, so consult your accountant, or check the Internal Revenue Service web site online at http://www.irs.gov.
Shop Around for the Cheapest Rates
You can insure yourself through an individual fee-for-service health insurance plan for less than $100 a month if you shop around online for the best rates. In many cases, you can get online quotes for as many as 10 different health insurance companies and choose the one that suits you best. You can even apply online and be covered within 24 hours.
Unexpected medical costs can destroy your business. Some creative financing and unusual options for dealing with them can prevent that from happening.