Do you or any of your friends work in the gig economy? If so, you may not be surprised by the rising number of independent employees in the workforce. There are many different types of gig economy jobs, like:
- Rideshare driving
- Tutoring or teaching online
- Dog walking
- Landscaping and gardening
- House cleaning
- Photography and videography
- Fitness training
- Selling or renting property
- Social media marketing
- Food delivery
Being a part of the gig economy can mean working a part-time side hustle or committing to a line of work full-time. The key difference between gig economy work and traditional employment is that you’re not considered an “employee” when you work a gig job. Therefore, you don’t receive company-provided benefits, like health insurance, when you’re an independent worker.
So, why are so many people ditching their 9-5 lifestyles and joining the gig economy? One reason is they want more flexibility. However, a better work-life balance doesn’t always include company-provided benefits. This doesn’t mean that gig economy workers lose access to affordable health insurance. It just means they’ll have to source out health insurance on their own.
The Gig Economy and the Future of Work
Did you know that millennials now make up the largest segment of the adult population? They also have new priorities when it comes to employment, like:
- Work-life balance
- Work variety
- More salary control
The rise of the gig economy shows that millennials are working differently. They’re leaning into the advantages of gig economy jobs that can offer a more flexible lifestyle. However, this doesn’t mean millennials are working less. Studies show that 84% of millennials have experienced work burnout, and 20% have switched jobs in the past year. As of 2017, more than half of millennials took on freelance work.
Employment needs are evolving, and the gig economy is becoming a more appealing place for millennials to land. Some studies show that contract workers will make up 40% of the workforce in 2020, and the majority of workers will freelance by 2027.
So, what does this mean for millennials and health insurance? Since their work priorities are evolving, they’ll also need options for health insurance other than company-provided health care benefits. Thankfully, gig economy workers can rest easy because it’s possible to have the flexibility they desire and an affordable health insurance plan.
3 Gig Economy Health Insurance Options
If you’re wondering how to afford health insurance in a gig economy, there are three main health insurance options to consider. The coverage that you choose will likely depend on your budget and health care needs, so let’s dive in and learn about health insurance for gig economy workers.
1. Short-Term Health Insurance
If you end your full-time position to pursue a passion in the gig economy, you may want to trim your monthly expenses. Flexibility may be a top priority for gig workers, but keep in mind that being frugal can be as well. As a gig economy worker, you manage your retirement savings, taxes, health and life insurance, and other business expenses. Buying a short-term health plan can be an affordable way to cut costs if you do not need the coverage available from an Affordable Care Act (ACA)-compliant plan, which includes benefits for:
- Pre-existing conditions
- Mental health care
- Pregnancy and newborn care
- Addiction recovery services
- Infertility care
- Eyeglasses or vision care
Short-term health insurance plans through Vera Health are not ACA-compliant and are not considered Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC), but they do provide benefits for unexpected medical emergencies, like:
Short-term health insurance plans through Vera also include benefits for general medical services, like:
- Doctor visits
- Urgent care visits
- Child immunizations
- Telemedicine benefits through your LIFE Association membership
- Prescription medications, depending on the state where you purchase your plan
- Diagnostic testing and interpretation of results, depending on the state where you purchase your plan
Short-term health insurance typically has competitively lower monthly premiums than other coverage options. You may be wondering how they keep costs low. It’s because they don’t include the essential health benefits required by ACA-compliant plans. However, if you don’t need the essential health benefits, then you could save a large chunk of money on your health insurance with a short-term health plan.
Aside from affordability, short-term health insurance can be an attractive coverage option for other reasons, like:
- Availability: Short-term health plans are available year-round with no open enrollment period, and coverage can begin as soon as the day after you purchase your plan.
- Flexibility: You have the option to choose the deductible and monthly premium that fits your budget. (Hint: your deductible is the amount that you’re responsible for paying before your short-term health insurance benefits kick in. Your premium is the amount that you pay each month).
- Renewability: Depending on your state, you could keep your short-term health plan for up to one year with the option to renew your plan two additional times.
Gig economy workers who don’t need ongoing medical care can find short-term health insurance to be a good fit. Also, short-term health plans have flexible plan durations, so if you need temporary coverage while you’re between jobs, short-term health insurance could be for you, too.
2. ACA Health Insurance from the Marketplace
If you need more coverage than short-term health insurance offers, then consider looking into ACA major medical plans from the health insurance marketplace. All ACA major medical plans are required to include the 10 essential health benefits categories and cover pre-existing conditions.
Also, if you enroll for an ACA major medical plan through the marketplace, you can apply to receive tax subsidies based on your income. If you qualify for a tax subsidy, your premium and out-of-pocket health care costs may be lower.
Keep in mind that ACA major medical plans are only available during the annual open enrollment period (OEP) unless you’re experiencing a qualifying life event, like:
- Loss of health insurance
- Change in marital status
- Becoming a U.S. citizen
- Change in residence
- Job change
Qualifying life events allow you to enroll for ACA major medical insurance through a special enrollment period (SEP), so if you need ACA major medical insurance outside of the annual OEP, you may still be eligible for coverage.
Gig economy workers that have pre-existing conditions, need ongoing care, and qualify for subsidies may find that ACA major medical plans meet their budget and medical needs best.
3. Health Insurance from a Private Agent
Depending on your income as an independent worker, you may not qualify for ACA tax subsidies. If you need major medical coverage, this can be discouraging. However, you still have major medical insurance options if the health insurance marketplace isn’t right for you.
Connecting with a private health insurance agent can help you find a health care plan that meets your personal needs. They’ll compare plans for you and answer any of your questions to help you find the right coverage.
Gig Economy and Health Insurance: More to Consider
Cost is a significant factor when choosing health insurance, but there are other things for gig economy workers to think about before purchasing a policy, like:
- Personal health needs: Do you have pre-existing conditions that require ongoing treatment? One of the most critical parts of buying health insurance is choosing a plan that includes the right coverage for your personal health needs. If you’re thinking about applying for short-term health insurance, be conscious of your coverage requirements and know that short-term health plans do not cover pre-existing conditions.
- In-network providers: If you want to maintain your relationships with your current health care providers, you’ll want to find out if they’re in-network with the health insurance plan that you’re considering. Short-term health insurance plans through Vera provide access to the Aetna Open Choice® PPO Network, which includes an extensive selection of providers.
- Urgency: Do you need health insurance right away? If so, short-term health insurance could be for you. A temporary health plan through Vera could kick in as soon as the day after you’re approved for coverage. Since there is no open enrollment period for short-term health insurance, you can also apply 365 days a year.
If you’re interested in joining the gig economy or have been at it for years, know that you can find a health insurance plan that meets your personal needs. Vera Health provides access to affordable short-term health insurance with flexible coverage options for flexible lifestyles.
Buying health insurance in the gig economy doesn’t have to be confusing. Vera takes the mystery, fluff, and hassle out of buying health insurance by helping you get the coverage you want and the freedom you need as a gig economy worker.
Want to learn more about Vera? Get in touch with a friendly Vera Health expert who can answer your questions and help you decide if short-term health insurance could be for you. Give us a call at 888-499-1187 or visit us online to learn more about our flexible coverage options today!
Short Term Medical coverage is not required to comply with federal market requirements for health insurance, principally those contained in the Affordable Care Act. Be sure to check your policy carefully to make sure you are aware of any exclusions or limitations regarding coverage of pre-existing conditions or health benefits (such as hospitalization, emergency service, maternity care, preventive care, prescription drugs, and mental health and substance use disorder services). If this coverage expires or you lose eligibility for this coverage, you might have to wait until an open enrollment period to get other health insurance coverage.