So you’ve finally made the leap to become an Medical insurance for owner operator truck drivers.
Congratulations! You’re now living the dream of being your own boss and setting your own schedule.
But between keeping your rig running, finding steady freight to haul, and managing your business finances, don’t forget one of the most important things – getting good, affordable health insurance.
When you were a company driver, you probably relied on your employer to provide medical benefits. Now that you’re on your own, health insurance is entirely up to you.
The open market can seem complicated and expensive. But don’t worry, with some smart shopping you can find coverage that won’t break the bank.
Here are five tips to help you get the medical insurance you need without paying an arm and a leg. Being your own boss means looking out for number one.
Your health and financial security should be at the top of your list of priorities right now.
Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to finding a health insurance policy that gives you both peace of mind and affordable premiums.
Shop Around at Different Insurance Companies
As an owner operator, you know how important it is to find affordable and comprehensive health insurance. The good news is, if you shop around at different insurance companies, you can find a plan that meets your needs without breaking the bank.
First, compare quotes from various carriers like Blue Cross Blue Shield, Kaiser Permanente, and UnitedHealthcare.
Check independent brokers and agents in your state as well as the health insurance marketplace. Compare apples to apples by looking at deductibles, copays, coverage levels and, of course, monthly premiums.
Often smaller regional carriers offer lower rates than the big national brands.
Second, consider plans with higher deductibles and copays. The more you agree to pay out of pocket for services, the lower your monthly premiums will be.
If you’re relatively healthy, this can be a good way to save. Just make sure any copays or coinsurance don’t exceed what you can afford.
You should also think about supplemental insurance for vision, dental or prescriptions. While not required, having these additional coverages can help avoid costly out-of-pocket expenses down the road.
Some carriers offer packaged deals at lower rates than purchasing these types of plans individually.
The most important thing is finding a policy you can stick with long-term. Keep shopping around annually to ensure you always have the most budget-friendly and comprehensive coverage available for your needs.
Your health and financial security depend on it.
Consider High-Deductible Health Plans
As an owner operator, you know health insurance doesn’t come cheap. One way to lower your costs is considering a high-deductible health plan (HDHP).
With an HDHP, you pay less in monthly premiums but have a higher deductible, meaning more out-of-pocket costs before coverage kicks in.
HDHPs may save you 30-60% on premiums compared to traditional plans. The trade-off is you’ll pay full price for most basic care and prescriptions until you meet your deductible, usually $1,500-$7,000 per person or $3,000-$14,000 per family.
Once you meet the deductible, the plan covers 100% of medical expenses. And HDHPs are eligible for health savings accounts (HSAs) which let you pay medical bills with pre-tax dollars.
You can deposit up to $7,200 annually for an individual or $14,500 for a family.
An HDHP can be risky if you have a chronic condition needing frequent or expensive treatment. But for generally healthy people, the savings can be substantial over time.
Shop plans on your state health exchange to compare options and see if the rewards outweigh the risks for your needs and budget.
Talk to your tax pro about potential deductions for HSA contributions and medical expenses. Keep meticulous records of all health care costs in case of an audit.
And set up automatic HSA payroll deductions or bank transfers to build your balance over the year, so funds are ready when you need them.
With the right mindset and strategies, an HDHP may provide affordable coverage and financial advantages for owner operators seeking to optimize health and business costs.
But go in with your eyes open to the responsibilities required to make these plans work for your unique situation.
Look Into Association Health Plans
Look Into Association Health Plans
As an owner operator, you may want to consider joining a trucking association to access their health insurance plans.
Many major trucking associations offer affordable health insurance options for members. These association health plans (AHPs) allow small groups like owner operators to band together to get lower premiums and better coverage.
Checking out a few different associations is a good idea. Compare plans and rates to find one that suits your needs and budget.
Some things to consider when evaluating AHPs:
- Coverage options: Look at the types of plans offered like HMOs, PPOs, high deductible plans. See what doctors and hospitals are in the network. The more choice and flexibility the better.
- Premium rates: Association plans are able to negotiate lower rates through group purchasing power. See how the premiums for different AHPs compare to individual market plans. Look for affordable rates for the coverage provided.
- Additional benefits: Many associations provide members additional benefits like life insurance, dental and vision insurance, retirement programs, and discounts on trucking essentials. Consider the overall value and bundle of benefits offered.
- Membership fees: Most associations charge an annual membership fee to access their insurance plans and benefits. Make sure the membership fees, combined with the health insurance premiums fit your budget before joining. Some fees may be tax deductible as a business expense.
While AHPs aren’t for everyone, for many owner operators they offer the most affordable path to health insurance.
Doing your research on the front end will help ensure you find a plan and association that meets all your needs so you can get back to what’s really important – trucking.
By banding together with other drivers, you have more leverage and buying power to negotiate the best deal on medical insurance.
Check if You Qualify for Subsidies
Check if You Qualify for Subsidies
As an Medical insurance for owner operator truck drivers, you may be eligible for subsidies and tax credits to help make health insurance more affordable.
Two main options to explore are Medicaid and premium tax credits.
If your income falls below a certain threshold, you may qualify for Medicaid which provides low-cost or free health coverage.
Medicaid eligibility varies by state, so you’ll need to check with your state’s Medicaid program to see if you qualify based on your income and family size.
Premium Tax Credits
If your income is too high for Medicaid, you may still qualify for premium tax credits to help pay for a plan from the health insurance marketplace.
These tax credits can lower your monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs like deductibles and copays.
When you enroll in a marketplace plan, you’ll find out if you’re eligible for tax credits that can be applied directly to your premiums or claimed when you file your taxes.
To qualify for subsidies and tax credits, your income must fall between 100% to 400% of the federal poverty level.
For 2021, that’s about $12,000 to $50,000 for a single person or $25,000 to $100,000 for a family of four.
Be prepared to provide information like your tax returns, pay stubs, and details on any dependents when applying for assistance.
Checking your eligibility for Medicaid, premium tax credits, and other forms of aid is well worth your time. Don’t assume you won’t qualify or that the paperwork isn’t worth the effort.
Government assistance programs exist specifically to help hardworking individuals like yourself gain access to necessities like health coverage.
Take advantage of the resources available to you, and you’ll gain peace of mind knowing you have affordable medical insurance coverage as an owner operator truck driver.
Negotiate the Best Deal
Once you’ve compared plans and coverage options, it’s time to negotiate the best deal. As an owner operator, you have more leverage than you realize. Use these tips to get the most affordable rates:
Ask about discounts
Inquire about any discounts for owner operators, safe driving records, membership in industry associations like OOIDA, or bundling with other policies like your truck insurance. Even a small discount can add up to big savings.
See if you can lower coverage limits
If you’re in good health, you may be able to lower certain coverage limits like your deductible or out-of-pocket maximum to reduce premiums. Make sure you understand the risks before making any changes.
Pay annually instead of monthly
Nearly all medical insurance companies charge lower rates for paying premiums annually rather than monthly.
Paying the full year upfront means more money in the company’s hands earning interest, so they pass on some of the savings to you. The discount for annual payment is typically around 5-10% per year.
Once you’ve explored all the options, call your medical insurance provider armed with the information about available discounts, coverage limits, and payment plans.
Politely but firmly explain your needs and what they can offer to earn your business. Often, they will work to match or beat a competitor’s rate to win you over as a customer.
The worst they can say is no, but you have nothing to lose by trying.
Change providers if needed
If you’re unable to get an affordable rate from your current insurance provider, it may be time to switch to a new company that better serves the needs of owner operators and small business owners.
Shop around at other major providers as well as plans offered through industry associations and private exchanges. With some persistence, you can find a good deal.
The key is not to settle for the first offer. Negotiate the best coverage and price for your needs through discounts, lower limits, annual payments, and competitive shopping. Your health and finances will thank you!
So there you have it, five solid tips for finding affordable health insurance as an independent trucker. While it may seem daunting, with some research and persistence you can find good coverage at a reasonable price.
Your health and financial security are worth the effort. Don’t get discouraged if the first options you find don’t seem ideal.
Keep looking, compare multiple plans, and consider bundling with other types of insurance to maximize your savings. You work hard out on the road, so make sure to take care of yourself physically and financially.
With the right plan and provider in place, you’ll have peace of mind that you’re protected in case of medical emergencies so you can focus on doing what you do best – delivering the goods that keep this country moving. Stay safe out there!