Getting health coverage has long been a challenge for the self employed. Especially for those with pre-existing conditions, finding health insurance that was both affordable and comprehensive could be very difficult, if not impossible.
Fortunately, as of 2014, this has all changed. Due to provisions in the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) it’s now easier than ever for the self employed to find affordable health insurance – and you don’t have to settle for less. For a middle-aged nonsmoker, a top notch “Gold Level” plan will run you around $4,000 a year. But, if you go for a middle of the road policy and / or if you apply for a subsidy, the cost can be much lower.
Cost of Obamacare Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum Level Plans
Health insurance plans on the Obamacare Marketplace are separated into four main levels: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. What these refer to is much of your medical expenses you need to pay out-of-pocket. Even when you have health insurance, you usually still have to pay a certain amount of your medical bills due to co-pays and deductibles. Bronze level plans typically have the highest out-of-pocket expenses while platinum level plans have the lowest. Silver and gold plans are in between.
Bronze plans typically have the lowest premiums. A middle-aged nonsmoker can expect to pay around $2,700 a year for a bronze plan. A silver level plan, which is more middle of the road, would run around $3,300.
A gold level plan, which requires less out-of-pocket spending, would cost around $4,000 a year. Platinum level plans aren’t available in every zip code, so we weren’t able to calculate an average, but they’re usually a bit more expensive than gold level plans.
Note, however, that these are just averages. Rates vary depending your age and geographical location. For a 21 year old nonsmoker, a silver level plan would be closer to $2,500 a year (vs. $3,300 for 40 year old). Costs also vary depending on the demographics and availability of health providers in your area. NPR identified 10 locations where rates are significantly higher than average, including the Colorado mountain resort region, Southwestern Georgia and Rural Nevada.
Covering Family Members
If you want to add your spouse to your plan, You can take your cost and double it (assuming they’re the same age as you). Adding a child is an additional 30 to 50 percent of your individual cost.
The costs mentioned above can be significantly lowered if you qualify for an Obamacare subsidy. If you earn below 400% of the poverty level, which is $46,680 in 2014 (or $95,400 for a family of four), you might be eligible for reduced health insurance costs. For example, an individual who earns $25,000 a year can save about 40 percent of their health insurance premiums. You can use this subsidy calculator tool to figure out whether or not you qualify and how much you could save.
Jeremy Marsan is a staff writer covering health insurance and business software for Fit Small Business an online “how-to” publication for small business owners and managers.