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Health Plans for the Individual

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Can an unemployed or self-employed person find an individual health plan? I always thought that once you are unemployed, or self-employed, you were going to pay through the nose for insurance. If you were laid off from your job, you get to spend a lot of money monthly on COBRA payments. (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) For those of you who have not had the lovely experience of being released from a job and don’t know what it is, COBRA allows former employees to continue their group health plan through their former employer by paying the monthly premium. The premium is usually a lot higher because the employers contribution is no longer there. COBRA generally lasts for about 18 months. I used to think that once COBRA ran out, that was it. You were doomed.

After doing some research, I found out that the end of COBRA isn’t a death knell. There are options out there. There are some states that allow a self-employed individual to purchase a group policy for a group consisting of one person. In other states, you must have two people to qualify for a group

rate. If you are self-employed and your spouse assists you with things like filing, answering the phone, bookkeeping, you may qualify for the group rate by claiming your spouse as an employee.

Yet another option is NASE, the National Association for the Self-Employed. NASE has a program called 105 HFR. Through this program, self-employed individuals may deduct 100% of their premiums and their non-insured medical expense from state, federal and self-employment taxes. This sounds like something worth investigating if you’re self-employed

If you’re not a business owner, there are still options that may suit you. You may be able to join an association and enjoy a lower premium group plan. You can join a trade or alumni association.

In researching for this article, I discovered that as a writer I might want to investigate the group health programs offered by ASJA, American Society of Journalist and Authors. If I were an actor, I might look into a plan offered by The Actors Fund of America , or a fitness instructor I would look into IDEA, an organization for health and fitness professionals. Pregnant women should investigate American Pregnancy Association which, in addition to government funded programs, offers discount health programs such as MaternityCard™ AmeriPlan. Get the idea? There are options available.

Association premiums are lower because the health plans are not subject to the same state regulations that group health plans are subject to. However, unlike a group plan, all members are not charged the same premium. Members premiums are calculated individually.

I’ve mentioned a few associations above. I strongly suggest that you do your own research. There may be an association in your particular field in which you can participate. Talk to people, network, use the internet. Don’t stop until you’ve found something that will work for you.

About the author: Felicia A. Williams is a former insurance broker who is now a freelance writer.

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