According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), just over 10% of the non-agricultural U.S. workforce is self-employed. This ratio has held more or less constant since the late '90s and represents more than 10 million people who need help finding affordable health insurance. Self-employed group health insurance is the catch-all phrase for the process these individuals go through in trying to find the same benefits as their small and large business counterparts. Indeed, self-employed group health is becoming more varied as local, state, and federal government look for specific solutions to the unique employment situation of these individuals. From new, individual group health insurance to contacting your chamber of commerce, here's what you need to know about the various possibilities for finding self-employed group health insurance.
Self-Employed Group Health Insurance for Individuals
Group health insurance for individuals may sound like a contradiction in terms, but states have begun to adopt rules that allow for exactly this. "Group of One" plans allow self-employed and sole business proprietors in states including Delaware, Maine, and New Hampshire to enjoy many of the same benefits as group health plans, according to Gary Claxton, vice president of the Kaiser Foundation. These state laws may have been written to carve out niche solutions to expand affordable health insurance for the people and businesses most likely to expand the economy, but health insurance companies are finding a different sort of value in these paradoxical plans. The single biggest reason that individual health plans cost more than group health plans is the extra cost of signing new customers on a one-by-one basis. Yet, by marketing these "group of one" plans to the millions of individuals who must shop for health insurance on the individual market, they can attract customers en masse, providing some relief from higher overhead costs.
Self-Employed/Small Business Group Health Insurance
If you don't live in a state that offers "group of one" plans, and many states do still require a minimum of two people to qualify for group health insurance, you might consider whether this is the final straw you needed to pull the trigger on hiring an employee. At first, this idea might make you roll your eyes: You're suggesting I hire an employee and provide that employee with health insurance? I don't have the money for that. You should realize, however, that you can offer group health insurance rates for your new employee without financially contributing to the premiums. Moreover, Congress has passed a law (Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act) that will grant you a temporary exemption for payroll taxes through the rest of the year, so long as the employee has been out of work for at least 60 days. And, if you keep the new employee on for at least one year, you could be entitled to an additional $1,000 corporate income tax credit.
Other Strategies for Finding Self-Employed Group Health Insurance Plans
Obviously, there are still millions of self-employed workers who can't justify hiring an employee and who don't live in a state where "group of one" plans are available. Fortunately, there may be other options. Many local and state chambers of commerce offer group health plans for self-employed workers and small businesses. Some trade associations do the same thing. The bad news is that, unlike "group of one" and small business group plans, you'll have to settle for whatever plan(s) is offered by these groups. If, on the other hand, you know other self-employed workers in the same or even different industries, you might be able to start your own group health insurance cohort.
Online Quotes for Self-Employed Group Health Insurance
By shopping online for quotes, self-employed group health is a much easier thing to pull off. First, submitting an online request for self-employed group health insurance quotes is a more efficient way to find insurance companies, allowing them to reduce overhead costs and the rates they charge you. But, this doesn't mean you have to do all the work. Once you fill out a brief online form, these companies will take the initiative to contact you and offer policy options tailored to the information you provide. Plus, in most cases, you'll have several insurance companies to choose from and to do some comparison-shopping. Perhaps best of all, you can review specific quotes and policy coverages from the comfort of your own home and/or with other members of your health insurance group.