So you’ve finally taken the leap and become your own boss. Congratulations! As an owner operator, you now have the freedom and flexibility to work for yourself on your own terms.
But with that freedom comes responsibility, like securing your own benefits. Health insurance is a big one. When you’re no longer covered under a company plan, finding an affordable policy with good coverage can be tricky
. Not to worry, we’ve done the research for you. In this article we break down some of the Best health insurance for owner operators so you can get to focusing on growing your business.
Whether you’re looking for a traditional private plan, want to take advantage of tax deductions with a small business health insurance policy, or need coverage that travels with you across state lines, we’ve got you covered (literally!).
Why Health Insurance Matters for Owner Operators
As an owner operator, your health and wellness are directly tied to your ability to do your job. That’s why investing in a good health insurance plan is so important.
Health insurance gives you financial protection in case of injury or illness. Without it, a single trip to the emergency room or major medical issue could wipe out your savings and even threaten your business.
Look for a plan that covers the basics like doctor visits, hospital stays, surgeries, and prescription drugs. Many plans also offer extras like vision, dental, life, and disability insurance.
Compare deductibles, copays, premiums, and out-of-pocket maximums to find a balance of coverage and affordability that works for your situation.
Consider plans that are tailored to small businesses and self-employed individuals. Some well-known options for owner operators include:
- ACA plans – Provided through healthcare.gov with subsidies and protections for pre-existing conditions. Tend to be very comprehensive but can be expensive.
- Short-term health insurance – Typically the cheapest but provides only temporary coverage and can deny claims for pre-existing conditions.
- Health sharing plans – Faith-based programs where members share costs. More affordable but coverage and rules can vary significantly between programs.
- Fixed indemnity plans – Pay fixed dollar amounts for services like doctor visits or hospital stays. Usually very budget-friendly but limited coverage.
Your health and ability to earn a living depend on the plan you choose. Compare all your options carefully and don’t hesitate to ask questions.
With the right health insurance in place, you’ll have peace of mind that you’re covered in case of the unexpected.
Top 3 Health Insurance Options for Owner Operators
As an owner operator, finding good health insurance is crucial.
Here are your top three options:
- Private health insurance plans: You can buy an individual or family plan directly from an insurance company. These typically offer the most flexibility and control over coverage and costs. However, premiums and out-of-pocket expenses can be high. Shop around at places like eHealthInsurance.com to compare plans. Look for ones with reasonable deductibles, affordable premiums, and coverage for things like hospital stays, ER visits, checkups, and prescriptions.
- Health insurance marketplaces: Check your state’s health insurance exchange to browse subsidized and unsubsidized plans. You may qualify for tax credits to help pay for premiums and other costs. Marketplace plans must meet certain standards, like covering preexisting conditions, preventive care, and essential health benefits. You can compare plans by metal tier (bronze, silver, gold, platinum) which indicates how much the plan pays for your costs.
- Healthcare sharing ministries: Faith-based cost-sharing programs where members share medical bills. While cheaper than insurance, they don’t guarantee claims will be paid. Popular options include Christian Healthcare Ministries, Medi-Share, and Liberty HealthShare. Membership fees go into a pool to pay for other members’ needs. Most require you attend services regularly at a place of worship.
The choice is yours. Compare all options based on your needs and budget to find coverage that will give you peace of mind while out on the open road. Your health and finances depend on it!
Pros and Cons of an ACA Marketplace Plan
ACA plans offer government subsidies to help make premiums more affordable for people with lower incomes.
If your income qualifies, these subsidies can significantly lower your monthly payments. Without subsidies, ACA plans may still be pricey, especially if you’re covering family members.
Premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket maximums have increased over time.
Choice of plans
The ACA Marketplace offers different levels of coverage – Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Bronze and Silver plans typically have lower premiums but higher out-of-pocket costs when you need care.
Gold and Platinum plans usually have higher premiums but lower out-of-pocket costs. You can compare different plans from multiple insurance companies to find one that suits your needs and budget.
ACA plans must cover essential health benefits like hospital stays, doctor visits, preexisting conditions, prescription drugs, and preventive care.
So you know you’re getting comprehensive coverage. They also can’t deny you coverage or charge higher premiums due to preexisting health issues.
ACA plans typically have narrower networks, limiting your choice of doctors and hospitals. The plan may not include your current doctors or the hospital you prefer.
Out-of-network care is typically not covered except for emergencies. Some prescription drugs may not be covered either.
If you go without health insurance for more than a couple of months out of the year, you may face tax penalties.
Some states also charge their own tax penalty for lack of coverage. The ACA individual mandate and associated tax penalties were repealed starting in 2019, but some states still have their own mandates in place.
In summary, while government subsidies and mandated benefits make ACA plans appealing, higher costs, narrow provider networks and the possibility of tax penalties are factors to keep in mind when evaluating if an ACA plan is the right choice for your situation.
Think about your needs, priorities and finances to determine if the pros outweigh the cons.
How to Get Group Health Insurance as an Owner Operator
As an owner operator, getting affordable health insurance for yourself and any employees can be challenging.
One option to consider is joining a group health insurance plan. Here are some ways to get group coverage:
Many trucking trade associations offer health insurance plans for members.
For example, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) partners with brokers to offer health plans with lower premiums and out-of-pocket costs.
Check with any associations you belong to see if they provide health benefits.
- OOIDA medical plans provide nationwide coverage with access to major medical networks.
- Plans have lower rates since the risk is spread among many association members.
- You must be an active OOIDA member for at least 6 months to qualify.
Some chambers of commerce and small business organizations team up with insurance companies to provide group health plans for members.
These plans typically have lower premiums than individual plans because the risk is shared by many businesses. Shop around at groups you are involved with to compare plans and rates.
Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements (MEWAs)
MEWAs allow small employers to join together to obtain health coverage as if they were a single large employer.
Premiums are often lower, and there are more plan options since risks and costs are shared among many companies. Check with your state insurance department for licensed MEWAs operating in your area.
Private Health Insurance Exchanges
New individual health insurance marketplaces let self-employed individuals and small businesses shop for coverage in one place. Some operate like group plans where you can join with other businesses to get lower rates.
See if there are any private health insurance exchanges operating in your state that offer group or association health plans for business owners. With some research, you can find group health insurance and get the coverage and affordability you need as an owner operator.
Comparing various options will help you locate the best value to keep you and your employees healthy and focused on your business.
What to Look for in an Owner Operator Health Insurance Plan
As an owner operator, you need health insurance tailored to your unique needs. When comparing plans, here are some key things to consider:
Look for a plan with a large network of doctors and hospitals. As a truck driver, you need coverage wherever the road takes you. National networks that include major healthcare providers across all 50 states are ideal.
Premiums for individual health insurance plans can be steep. Shop around at different insurance companies and compare quotes to find a plan with premiums that fit your budget.
Consider higher deductible plans to lower your monthly costs, as long as you can afford the out-of-pocket costs if you need care.
Reasonable Out-of-Pocket Costs
In addition to premiums, look at the deductibles, copays, and coinsurance in the plans. Make sure these additional costs are affordable and won’t break the bank if you face high medical bills.
Low out-of-pocket maximums, like $5,000 or less per year, provide more financial protection.
Coverage On the Road
Look for a plan that provides coverage regardless of network. This allows you to get emergency care at any hospital when traveling and not just those in your insurance network.
Plans should also cover things like virtual doctor visits by phone or video chat since frequent travel can make in-person appointments difficult.
Many plans now offer incentives for completing health and wellness programs. These may include health risk assessments, biometric screenings, weight loss programs, and fitness tracking.
Taking advantage of these programs can help lower your costs over time and encourage important health habits for a demanding job like truck driving.
Comparing plans carefully based on these factors will help ensure you choose an owner operator health insurance plan tailored to your life on the road.
With the right coverage in place, you’ll have peace of mind to focus on the job at hand.
So there you have it, the best health insurance options for owner operators to consider. As an independent business owner, finding good and affordable coverage is critical to your health and financial well-being.
Don’t get overwhelmed by all the choices and options out there. Start with the basics, determine what level of coverage you need, and evaluate plans based on your budget and specific needs.
Whether you go with a major medical plan, a high-deductible plan, or join a healthcare sharing ministry, make sure you find something that gives you the coverage and peace of mind you need to keep business moving.
Your health is the most important asset you have, so take the time to explore all the options and find what works for your unique situation. The open road may call, but don’t forget to take care of yourself along the way.