If you work for yourself, you know that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) can help millions of self-employed Americans find a health plan within their means. But did you know there are other ways for you to save money on health insurance?

Let’s look at a few ways freelancers, solopreneurs, and small business owners can reduce their health insurance costs beyond the ACA’s subsidy model. We’ll begin with one of the perks self-employed people love most: the tax deduction.

You Can Probably Deduct Your Premiums

Not all self-employed Americans realize it, but health, dental, and qualifying long-term care insurance premiums are tax-deductible business expenses.¹

That said, your ability to take the deduction is subject to certain conditions, the most outstanding of which include:¹

  • Your business has to show a profit. Self-employed people who earn nothing in a given year or incur a loss cannot deduct health insurance premiums. The deduction can only amount to as much as you earn from your business.
  • You can’t have employer-sponsored health coverage. If you’re covered by an employer health plan, you can’t take the deduction. This is also true if you’re eligible for coverage through an employer and purchase your own health insurance instead.

While most self-employed people meeting these conditions will qualify for the deduction, always check with your accountant before filing your tax return.

Under 30? Consider Catastrophic Coverage

Before the ACA, self-employed Americans may have faced a challenging conundrum: buy expensive health insurance or forgo it entirely (and hope you don’t fall ill). A potential solution was to purchase a catastrophic plan as a bulwark against expensive health care costs. Coverage was minimal, and deductibles were high. But premiums were low!²

Due to the ACA requirement that comprehensive health plans sold in the United States include minimum essential coverage,³ catastrophic health plans popular with the self-employed no longer exist. However, self-employed Americans under 30 can still purchase catastrophic coverage similar to what was available in the past. Today’s catastrophic plans include all mandatory health benefits, but there are limits on the number of primary care visits and preventative services covered before the deductible kicks in.²

Premiums for catastrophic plans will be among the lowest on the market, but there’s a catch: nobody using them will be eligible for federal subsidies.² Which means…

A Bronze Plan Might Still Be More Affordable.

If you’re shopping for coverage and are wondering why some plans labeled catastrophic are more expensive than the ones labeled bronze, it may be because plans in the latter category allow you to apply a subsidy to your monthly premiums if you qualify.² Ultimately, opting for catastrophic coverage can be a great way for freelancers and small business owners in their 20s to find affordable coverage. Just be aware that subsidy eligibility may allow you to pay less, or nothing at all*, for an even better product!

Cost Sharing Can Lower Your Premium

Self-employed Americans who qualify may be eligible for an additional subsidy for some health plans on top of the one available to them for all Marketplace coverage. This subsidy is called a “cost-sharing reduction” and applies only to plans in the Marketplace’s silver category.4

A cost-sharing plan could put Silver-level coverage within your means – even if you thought a Bronze plan was at the top of your budget! For qualified applicants, Silver plans with the cost-sharing reduction applied will offer costs comparable to Bronze plans.

Working for yourself doesn’t have to confine you to low-quality health insurance. ACA subsidies aside (and those alone can provide significant savings!) there are a variety of ways to save money on health insurance. Visit HealthMarkets today for more information about choosing a plan that works for you and your family.



* Premium subsidies will vary, depending on the area where you live, because premium subsidies are higher where silver plans cost more. The examples provided were generated using a subsidy calculator available on the marketplace and may not reflect the premium subsidies available to you, if you qualify.

1. Credit Karma. November 18, 2020. Retrieved from https://www.creditkarma.com/tax/i/self-employed-health-insurance-deduction
2. HealthCare.gov. Retrieved from https://www.healthcare.gov/choose-a-plan/catastrophic-health-plans/
3. Legislative Counsel. Compilation of Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act. Retrieved from https://housedocs.house.gov/energycommerce/ppacacon.pdf
4. HealthCare.gov https://www.healthcare.gov/glossary/cost-sharing-reduction/

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