In recent years, there has been a dramatic shift in the way a lot of people work. More and more people are now turning to gig work, which includes jobs like food delivery, freelance work, cryptocurrency trading, copywriting, etc.
While this can offer flexibility and independence, it also comes with a number of challenges, like having access to health insurance.
Oftentimes, you, as a gig worker, might not have access to traditional employer-sponsored health insurance plans. As a result, you may need to purchase health insurance for gig workers on your own. But first, there’s a need for you to consider your unique needs and budget when choosing a health insurance plan.
In January 2023, New York’s Times released a statement based on the research they carried out. The aim of the survey was to determine the percentage of gig workers in the United States that have health insurance plans.
According to their research, it was discovered that only 1 out of 4 or, better put, 25% of gig workers, have health insurance plans in the United States.
It’s important to know that health insurance has evolved over the years, so the least you can do for yourself as a gig worker is to understand how this industry works before purchasing a plan.
To start with, let’s get to understand what health insurance for gig workers is all about.
What is Health Insurance for Gig Workers?
This is a type of insurance that covers the medical expenses of people who work in the gig economy and don’t usually have access to employer-sponsored health insurance.
Due to the fact that they can’t get employee insurance, they now have to look elsewhere for a suitable alternative.
There are different types of health insurance for gig workers that we will be looking into. Before that, let’s check out its importance.
Importance of Health Insurance for Gig Workers
The following are the importance of health insurance for gig workers:
- Financial protection
- Access to quality healthcare
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Prevention of serious health conditions
- Increased productivity and performance.
Overview of the Importance of Health Insurance for Gig Workers
Without health insurance, gig workers may be faced with large medical bills if they get sick or injured. Sometimes, the bills can be difficult or too expensive to pay which can lead to financial hardship in the life of a gig worker.
Having health insurance as a gig worker can help you get the best medical care you need without having to worry about the cost.
Access to Quality Healthcare
One of the benefits of having health insurance is that it gives you access to high-quality healthcare providers and facilities.
Without insurance, you may not be able to afford to see the best doctors or go to the best hospitals. Having health insurance gives you the peace of mind of knowing that you can get the care you need when you need it.
Reduced Stress and Anxiety
Imagine using all or almost all of your gig earnings to pay for medical expenses. That can really lead to anxiety.
This is because you will always have to worry about getting sick or injured and not being able to afford the care you need.
Now, when you have health insurance as a gig worker, you will not have to worry about such things.
Prevention of Serious Health Conditions
Health insurance can help you get the preventive care that is necessary for you to stay healthy. This includes things like regular checkups, vaccinations, and even screenings.
Preventive care can help detect and treat health problems early before they become serious.
Without health insurance, many gig workers may not be able to afford this type of care, putting their health at risk.
Increased Productivity and Performance
Having health insurance can actually help gig workers perform better in their jobs. By reducing stress and anxiety and providing access to preventive care, health insurance can improve workers’ mental and physical well-being.
This, in turn, can lead to increased productivity and better job performance. In short, let’s just say that health insurance can be a key factor in helping gig workers do their best work.
Now that we have covered some of the benefits of health insurance, let’s get ourselves acquainted with the various types of health insurance that are available for gig workers.
Types of Health Insurance Available for Gig Workers
The following are the health insurance available for gig workers:
- ACA Marketplace Plans
- Short-Term Health Plans
- Health Savings Accounts
- Professional Associations.
Overview of the Insurance Types for Gig Workers
ACA Marketplace Plans
This type of health insurance makes health insurance more affordable for gig workers. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace offers various plans. They also provide subsidies for low-income individuals, which now makes health insurance more affordable.
Short-Term Health Plans
This is the type of health insurance that is offered to gig insurance temporarily. They can be useful for gig workers during gaps in employment.
Health Savings Accounts
Gig workers can contribute to an HSA, which offers tax benefits and can be used for medical expenses.
This is a continuation of an employer-sponsored health plan. It allows former employees to continue their coverage for a limited time after they leave a job.
If you recently left your traditional job, you may be eligible for COBRA, though it is for a limited time.
Some gig workers can access group health plans through professional associations or unions. This is why it is important to belong to different associations so you can have access to certain benefits.
Health Plan Options for Gig Workers
Below is a list of health plan options for gig workers:
Overview of the Health Plan Options for Gig Workers
This is also known as the Obamacare plan. It is a plan that is offered through government-controlled health insurance marketplaces, or exchanges.
To be eligible for a marketplace plan, you must meet certain income requirements, which include not being a benefactor of Medicare and Medicaid.
Once you are eligible for this insurance, you will receive financial support to help pay your premiums. It’s also important to note that marketplace plans have different levels, depending on your eligibility.
These levels are platinum, gold, silver, and broxe. While bronze is the lowest with a high deductible, platinum has the lowest deductible but the highest premium.
Individual plans are purchased directly from an insurance company, either online or through an agent.
There are two types of individual plans, which are HMOs and PPOs. HMOs (Health Maintenance Organizations) have a limited network of doctors and hospitals, and you must choose a primary care doctor who will coordinate your care PPOs (Preferred Provider Organizations) on the other hand offer a larger network of providers, and you don’t need to choose a primary care doctor.
This is a type of health insurance that is member-owned and controlled. It means that the people who buy the co-op’s insurance policies are also the owners of the co-op.
Co-ops tend to have lower overhead costs than traditional insurance companies, which allows them to keep premiums lower. The downside of co-ops is that they can be limited in terms of coverage and provider networks.
Now that we have discussed and understood health insurance for gig workers, you can now check out the process involved in finding this insurance.
FAQ Health Insurance For Gig Workers
Can I get coverage through the Affordable Care Act?
Yes, you can purchase health insurance through the ACA marketplace.
How do I prove their income for health insurance purposes?
Most people use their tax return to prove their income when applying for health insurance. However, you may need to use other documentation to prove your income.
Can I get subsidies to help pay for health insurance?
Sure, may be eligible for subsidies to help you pay for your health insurance. Subsidies are available to people who have a low or moderate income. To be eligible for subsidies, you must meet certain income requirements and must not be eligible for other types of coverage, such as employer-sponsored coverage or Medicaid.
What if I can't afford health insurance even with subsidies?
If you can't afford health insurance even with subsidies, there are other options available. One option is to look for a plan with a lower premium and a higher deductible. Another option is for you to consider a short-term health insurance plan. Short-term plans are not eligible for subsidies, but they can be more affordable than other options.
Are there any special considerations for gig workers who are self-employed?
Sure, there are a few things that self-employed gig workers should keep in mind. They may be eligible for the self-employed health insurance deduction on their taxes.
Health insurance for gig workers in 2023 is not a one-size-fits-all solution, but it is more accessible than ever before. Gig workers should carefully assess their individual needs, budget, and preferences when selecting health insurance coverage.
Although navigating the complex healthcare landscape can be challenging, by exploring the options outlined in this article, gig workers can find the right balance between flexibility and security for their healthcare needs.
Remember, investing in health insurance is an investment in your future well-being and financial stability as a gig worker.