This topic is a doozie. For those who work independently, this is a massively important subject, and for those who aspire to work independently, it should be among the top considerations before you make the move.
I’m a cartoonist, not a healthcare expert, but this topic affects all of us, and some of the answers and solutions should be shared.
First, the challenges. Despite the new healthcare laws, health insurance and the associated costs are still getting more expensive. Regardless of politics (please refrain from commenting on this aspect – we’re already mercilessly pounded by politics in all other forms of media, and it has no place here.) a larger portion of my income goes to these expenses, and this year thus far seems to be the most expensive of all. And I’m someone who has insurance – in and of itself a valuable benefit.
A number of working artists have a spouse who works in another career field and has health insurance provided through their employer. Another very successful gag cartoonist, Bob Vojtko, has held a job at his local grocery store in order to have employer-provided healthcare, and has made it an integrated part of his online presence. Here’s a Saturday Evening Post article with a great picture of Bob at work….at work.
If you don’t work for someone else who provides health insurance coverage, where can you turn to get a plan for yourself and your family? Here’s a few potential options that I’ve found:
Graphic Artist’s Guild - The Graphic Artist’s Guild is an organization that supports artists in a host of areas, from contract advice, webinars and other educational services, and for members, health insurance. There are terms and conditions that could affect you, so review the page carefully before deciding if this is a good fit. Even if you don’t opt for health insurance, there are other very good reasons to join.
Freelancer’s Union - I’ve been hearing more about this group, and they offer a wide selection of health benefits, including dental and disability. There are a number of qualifying eligibility requirements, so read through their pages carefully.
Chamber Of Commerce - This is a link to the national chamber, however check with your local chapter for details and availability of insurance. Frequently, depending on your location, a full selection of health benefits are available for members.
Whatever the potential solution or provider, explore the present and future expenses, consider the tax ramifications (all healthcare insurance provided by an employer will be taxed as income after January 1st, 2014). The new healthcare laws provide some relief and some challenges, and it’s incumbant on those seeking health insurance to be aware of as much as possible before making your choice.
Additional resources and reading: