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Many Americans access health insurance, dental insurance, and other medical-related coverage through their employers. As a self-employed individual, you will have to manage your medical expenses through other means.
What can you do? These are some of the options freelancers have to manage healthcare expenses.
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Turn to the Health Insurance Marketplace
The simplest solution for managing medical expenses as a freelancer is to enroll in a plan through the health insurance marketplace. If you’re uninsured, you should do this sooner rather than later.
The Open Enrollment Season for the health insurance marketplace is only available temporarily. Citizens have between November 1, 2022, and January 15, 2023, to apply for a new plan that offers coverage in 2023. After the January 15 deadline, you won’t be able to apply unless you are eligible for a Special Enrollment Period. You should try to sign up for a plan before it’s too late.
Are You Eligible for COBRA?
Were you recently let go by a company that offered health benefits? Then you might be eligible to apply for COBRA coverage. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) allows eligible ex-employees and their families to temporarily extend coverage for medical expenses from their group benefits.
Access Coverage for Medical Expenses Through Your Spouse’s Plan
Are you married? Then you may be able to access healthcare coverage through your spouse’s insurance plan. Check the policy to determine whether a spouse can access the benefits to help you better manage your medical expenses.
What if you’re in a relationship but you aren’t married? Some policies will count common-law partners as eligible spouses for healthcare benefits. However, your partner will need to discuss this technicality with their employer. Their employer may need proof that you are a common-law couple. They may ask for a signed affidavit, proof of joint tax returns, proof of shared bank accounts, and more.
Could Medicaid Help You with Medical Expenses?
If your current income is low, you may be eligible for Medicaid to help cover your medical expenses. Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that provides free or low-cost health coverage for low-income citizens.
How do you know that you’re qualified for Medicaid? Every state has different income thresholds to qualify for the program. Therefore, check your state’s Medicaid income threshold to see whether you’re an appropriate candidate.
Unlike plans available through the healthcare marketplace, Medicaid does not have a temporary enrollment period. Therefore, you can apply at any time.
CHIP Helps with Medical Expenses for Children
Do you have children? The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provides low-cost healthcare for children of low-income families. In some states, pregnant women can be eligible for CHIP.
If you can’t afford a marketplace family plan, you can try to apply for CHIP to help you manage your medical expenses. There are no deadlines to apply.
A Dental Discount Plan Could Offer Some Relief
Dental treatments can be expensive. Instead of signing up for a private dental insurance plan, you might have an easier time enrolling in a dental discount plan.
A dental discount plan is an annual membership plan that can provide you discounts between 10%-60% on dental services for you and your family. The membership fee typically costs between $100-$200 per year. While such a plan will not cover medical expenses per se, taking care of your dental health will go a long way toward keeping you healthy overall.
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Pharmaceutical Discount Programs Can Lower Your Prescription Costs
Another discount program you should consider signing up for is a pharmaceutical discount program. The program could help you lower the costs of prescription medications over the course of the year. If you need to frequently take prescription medications, then a discount program could be incredibly useful in managing your overall medical expenses.
Moreover, many pharmaceutical discount programs are free to enroll in.
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Set up an Emergency Fund for Medical and Other Expenses
The moment that you decide to become a freelancer, you should start putting an emergency fund together. An emergency fund is a collection of personal savings reserved for urgent, unpredictable expenses such as medical emergencies.
For example, you might have to book an emergency dentist appointment to fix a broken tooth. Or you might need to purchase prescription antibiotics for a sudden infection.
With the help of an emergency fund, you should be able to manage these urgent expenses out of pocket. Moreover, even if you have insurance, the expenses may not be fully covered. However, you can use those emergency savings to pay for the remainder right away.
Without an emergency fund, you might not have enough available funds to cover an urgent, unplanned expense. In that case, you will have to find an alternative way to pay off the expense in a short amount of time.
Consider a Personal Line of Credit
You could visit a website like CreditFresh to see whether you qualify for a personal line of credit. Anyone who meets all of the qualifications can send in an application for a line of credit online and wait to see whether they’re approved.
If you’re approved for a personal line of credit loan, and your account is in good standing, you could request a withdrawal within your credit limit. That withdrawal can then be deposited in your bank account and used to cover the urgent expense. Afterward, you can follow a repayment plan.
A line of credit loan should be a last resort in an emergency. You should have an emergency fund set up as your primary safety net in these circumstances.
Don’t wait until you need to go to the doctor to think about medical expenses. Prepare your finances for these expenses now.
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