Health Insurance Basics

If you’re self-employed

If you just became self-employed after leaving a full-time W-2 job, you can use COBRA to continue your previous employer’s coverage until you’re able to find a new plan. If it’s not open enrollment, you should also be able to qualify for a special enrollment period to shop on the marketplace.

Make sure your premiums are affordable, as your monthly income may be variable. Your health insurance premiums are also tax-deductible sometimes, so don’t forget that come tax time. 

Learn more about health insurance for freelancers.

If you have a low income

People on a low income or tight budget should look into whether or not they qualify for Medicaid. Medicaid is a public health insurance plan available for low income individuals and families. We discuss Medicaid in more detail later.

If your income is between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty line, you likely qualify for a subsidy from the health insurance marketplace. This subsidy can help make health insurance more affordable.

The most important thing to remember is to have some sort of coverage in place. A serious health issue can turn into a financial disaster if you’re not careful. If you qualify, you could look into catastrophic plans; these low cost plans can protect you from the cost of serious illnesses and accidents but aren’t available to everyone.

If you’re a veteran

If you’re a veteran, you may qualify for health care through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The Affordable Care Act does not change VA health benefits.

If you have health insurance coverage through a private-sector employer, you can have and use both health insurance plans at the same time.

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