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Supplemental Benefits for Independent Contractors, Entrepreneurs, and Freelancers

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Gigly team, Marketing at Gigly
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New to the freelancing and gig worker realm?

Then we’re willing to bet you love the perks:

Flexibility, autonomy, and the ability to use your most extraordinary skills to provide services to your clients.

Yet, freelancing also means you don’t automatically have the health-related benefit packages of full-time employees including supplemental benefits. One of the most significant changes for independent contractors is transitioning to an individual health insurance plan.

Understandably, new gig workers have plenty of questions.

Will your insurance provide coverage for your individual and family needs? How can you be sure you’re protected from unaffordable medical bills related to existing conditions or emergencies?

If you’ve experienced confusion about how to secure health coverage for yourself (and your family, if applicable), you’re not alone.

Here, we’ll break down what you need to know about health insurance and supplemental benefits. Armed with this info, enjoy peace of mind about your coverage as you embark on a new career phase in the freelance world.


First Things First: Let’s Talk About Health Insurance

Determining what type of health insurance coverage you need seems daunting — particularly now that you’re not limited by the plans offered by an employer.

You have the benefit of unlimited options. And the freedom to select a personalized health insurance plan that’s perfect for you (and your family members, if applicable). However, the vast array of plans may feel overwhelming or lack the specific coverages you’re seeking.

Suppose you’re having trouble finding an individual insurance plan that covers standard care, major emergencies, as well as chronic or major illnesses. In that case, you may want to consider supplemental benefits.

But we’ll get to that shortly.

First, we’ll break down everything you need to know about what insurance plans cover. Then we’ll get into how gig workers can enjoy added protection through supplemental coverage.

Ready?

Let’s start with a few health insurance basics and go from there.

Understanding Health Insurance Terms

You already know that the extent of your health insurance coverage depends on the plan you select and the amount you pay.

But to determine exactly how much you can expect to pay for healthcare and compare various insurance plans, it’s essential to understand a few key terms.

Premium:

The amount you pay each month to maintain health insurance coverage.

Your monthly premium will vary depending upon the coverage you need and the health insurance plan you select. It will likely be higher for plans with lower deductibles and copays for healthcare services and prescription drugs.

Determining the monthly premium that’s right for you depends on how often you use health insurance to pay for services and medications as well as your budget.

Deductible:

The amount you will pay out-of-pocket for healthcare services before your insurance begins covering any costs. Sometimes, your provider will cover preventative care and specific procedures regardless of whether you’ve met your deductible or not.

Typically, people who use their health insurance frequently benefit from plans with a lower deductible because they spend less before their provider starts paying for a percentage of expenses.

Individuals and families can save money on their premiums by opting for a higher deductible plan.

A higher-deductible route is often sufficient for those who don’t:

  • Take expensive prescription drugs
  • Have a chronic condition
  • Anticipate using their health insurance to cover much more than preventative care or emergencies

CoPay:

A set amount you pay for certain healthcare services like office visits and standard preventative procedures.

You can usually expect to take care of a copay at the time of service, such as at the reception desk of an office or having your credit card charged right after a telehealth appointment.

Coinsurance:

After you’ve paid your deductible, you will still pay a set percentage of the cost for healthcare services — your insurance covers the rest of the allowed amount.

Out-of-Pocket Maximum:

Once you’ve paid your deductible amount, there’s a maximum amount you will pay for coinsurance costs before your plan starts covering 100% of allowed healthcare services.

Keep in mind:

You are still responsible for paying your monthly premium, copays, out-of-network costs, and other expenses not included in your plan once you’ve reached your out-of-pocket maximum.

Out-of-Network Provider:

This refers to a doctor or specialist who is not part of your provider’s network. Their services will either cost more or your plan won’t cover them at all.

When a doctor is part of your health insurance company’s network, it means they have a contract to provide services at a specific cost that the insurance provider will pay.

Out-of-network doctors usually charge full price. Your insurance will sometimes pay the amount allowed in their contracts with in-network providers, and the physician or hospital will bill you for the rest.

If possible, opting to receive care from an in-network provider is the best way to avoid sky-high bills you’ll need to pay out of pocket.

What Does Health Insurance Cover?

The previous section demystified some of the standard terms you’ll encounter while exploring health insurance plans. Now, we can discuss what typical plans do and don’t cover to make sense of how supplemental benefits offer additional coverage for those who want or need it.

So let’s dive right in.

Each health insurance plan is different, offering varying degrees of coverage for certain services and procedures.

Remember, how much you pay for your monthly premium, deductible, copays, coinsurance, and prescription drugs determines how much your health insurance will cover.

With that in mind, most plans offer various levels of coverage for standard healthcare services like these:

  • Preventative procedures such as routine checkups and vaccinations
  • Visits to urgent care or the emergency room
  • Prescription medications
  • Specialist visits (sometimes subject to approval)
  • Medical devices
  • Wellness needs

The majority of health insurance plans will not cover certain services such as:

  • Elective cosmetic surgery or procedures
  • Prescriptions not used for the original FDA-approved purpose (referred to as “off-label” use)
  • New or experimental treatments
  • Holistic or alternative medicine

We’ve covered most of the basic information about the medical benefits most likely to be available through health insurance plans. Let’s move on to supplemental options that may help cover other expenses.

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What Are Supplemental Insurance Benefits?

Woman in dentist chair

Generally speaking, supplemental benefits cover basic costs like what you owe toward your deductible, copays, and your coinsurance responsibility.

Some plans offer assistance paying for medication, transportation to appointments, food, and lost wages related to health conditions, illnesses, or injuries.

In other cases, supplemental coverage might provide various benefits that your primary health insurance plan does not:

  • Accident Insurance
  • Major/Critical Illness Insurance
  • Dental Care and Vision Coverage
  • Short-Term Disability Insurance
  • Long-Term Disability Insurance
  • Life Insurance

Regardless of which supplemental benefits plan you choose and what it covers, these plans are not suitable replacements for standard health care coverage.

Most carriers require you to have a primary comprehensive health insurance plan before enrolling in supplemental benefits. People who plan to use Medicare need to have Part A and Part B coverage to enroll in additional benefits.

When Should I Consider Supplemental Health Insurance Coverage?

A gig worker should consider supplement health insurance coverage when:

  • A condition or risk factor not covered by your health insurance plan exists
  • If your regular health insurance plan does not include dental care or vision coverage
  • To protect yourself from unexpected medical bills
  • If there is a potential risk of injury or illness where you work
  • If your healthcare plan doesn’t cover all your individual needs

Sometimes other circumstances exist.

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How Can Freelancers, Contractors, and Gig Workers Get Health Insurance and Supplemental Benefits?

If you thought self-employment and freelancing disqualified you from getting healthcare coverage, think again!

The economy is shifting as more individuals opt for gig work that gives them more control and flexibility regarding their schedule, finances, or personal priorities. As a result, it’s become easier than ever before to find health insurance options that fit a wide variety of needs.

Here are a few ways gig workers are finding quality coverage independent of an employer.

The Health Insurance Marketplace (Healthcare.gov)

Also known as Obamacare, the Health Insurance Marketplace came about in 2013 as an answer to the large population of U.S. residents who were uninsured. Many did not qualify for health coverage through Medicaid, Medicare, or an employer, while others simply could not afford the plans available to them.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) made health insurance available to everyone who needs it, ensuring quality coverage for self-employed gig workers and their families.

You can access the Health Insurance Marketplace at Healthcare.gov. There you can compare health plans offered by different carriers and select which one is ideal for meeting your needs.

For your reference, here are a few relevant facts about individual and family plans acquired through the Health Insurance Marketplace:

  • You may see these plans referred to as private insurance or short-term insurance
  • Your monthly premium will partially depend on age, location, and income
  • You’ll need to keep an eye out for a qualifying or open enrollment opportunity to sign up (enrollees can also make changes to their coverage during open enrollment periods)

Public Health Insurance

Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for public health insurance through programs like:

  • Medicare
  • Medicaid
  • Veterans Affairs Healthcare
  • Indian Health Service

Your kids may meet the eligibility requirement for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), depending on your household income.

Public health insurance options are available to people within a certain income bracket or who meet specific social criteria (such as previous and active military service or being part of an indigenous group).

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)

Those who qualify for Medicare based on age will find that there are multiple parts, all covering different areas of your medical needs. For example, Medicare Part A and Part B provide primary coverage for healthcare services like doctor visits and hospital stays.

Medicare Advantage plans (MA Plans) are a bundle of Part A, Part B, and sometimes Part D (drug plan coverage). Most of the Medicare Advantage plans cover benefits that Part A and B don’t, such as vision care, dental cleanings, and hearing. If you’re looking for coverage to help with dental care, hearing aids, or acupuncture for your chronic lower back pain, take advantage of the all-in-one MA plan.

If you plan to enroll in Medicare, be aware of all Medicare options available to you. It will help you make an informed decision about which parts of Medicare you need, whether that’s a major medical, prescription drug, or some other type of critical coverage.


Why Are Supplemental Benefits Ideal for Gig Workers and Freelancers?

Man standing at doctor office desk talking to doctor and assistant

Many freelancers, contractors, and self-employed individuals find that adding supplemental coverage to their private health insurance plan provides an extra layer of security.

Why?

Supplemental benefits help pay medical expenses you may not otherwise be able to cover out-of-pocket due to factors like these:

  • Potentially unpredictable income flow
  • Lack of paid time off for personal or sick days
  • Self-employment tax rates and payment schedules
  • Business expenses such as software, hardware, phone services, and internet

By enrolling in supplemental health insurance benefits, you can stay focused on providing your clients with high-quality work, knowing you may not need to cover significant expenses such as:

  • Hospital stays
  • Coinsurance costs
  • Lost wages
  • Medical transportation
  • Pricey medications

How Does Gigly Support Self-Employed Individuals?

We’re glad you asked.

Gigly is your ally while you embark on the journey of self-employment. We’re here to help you feel confident as you step into the realm of endless career possibilities, using your unique skills to impact the world around you.

Part of our mission includes:

  • Providing 24/7 advice if you have questions navigating the world of benefits
  • Offering exclusive prescription discounts
  • Connecting you with top-notch telehealth providers
  • Helping negotiate lower healthcare bills for our valued members

As a Gigly member, you’ll always have a team of experts to help you find the benefits that meet your needs and discover the many gig-worker perks we offer trailblazers just like you.

Gigly members love all our incredible services, but here are a few of their favorites:

  • Unlimited Teledoc appointments
  • Virtual mental health services
  • Patient advocacy and negotiation services to lower medical bills
  • Discounted dental, vision care, and medical services
  • Wellness tools and program discounts
  • Unbeatable prescription drug and medication discounts
  • Access to essential legal document templates
  • Exclusive pet insurance offers

Conclusion

Whether you’ve recently pivoted your career to be more gig-focused (and ditch the post-pandemic corporate culture) or have been flying solo for a while now, it’s never too late to think about benefits.

Ensuring you have the insurance coverage and overall support needed to succeed as an independent worker is essential — Gigly is here to make that process as simple as possible.

Hopefully, we’ve answered all your basic questions in this article.

But we also know that every gig worker is different, so don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions about how Gigly’s tools and services can have your back while you focus on creating a career that’s as unique as you are.