Ask 1099 Mom: What About Health Insurance?

So many moms come to me with this question.  They have decided to work from home, for themselves, and without the oversight of an employer.  Most benefits are something they can live without: sick days, vacation (what's that?), and 401K.  Then there is health insurance.  It's not cheap, and most of us don't feel like we can get rid of it altogether.  So what does a 1099mom do?  Here are few ideas:

Look into a high deductibles health plan.  They are usually cheaper per month, and although they don't start paying out until you reach that high amount of $2,500 or more (in my case, $10,000), many now cover preventative care as a result of new health care legislation.  This means you can get your women's check ups and basic physicals paid.  [See more about why I love my high deductible plan for even more ideas for making it work for you.]

See about group plans for your industry.  While not always more affordable, they are usually offered by bigger plans (like the Blues, for example.)  I know that you can get a plan through AvantGuild, but you'll need to become a member of the Guilde for $50+ a year.  Then you'll have access to the same plan they offer all their freelancers.  It may not always be more affordable than option #1, but it is an option.  (And more people on the plan means it may be less likely to shut down - something that many self-employed people are finding is happening to their individual plans.)  Find out about plans in your industry by Googling for membership associations, unions, etc.

Get assistance.  Yes, it's hard to ask for help, but sometimes, it's the best thing you can do to protect your health in the long run.  Look to your local Health and Human Services office to see if you qualify for any health programs.  Medicaid, programs for pregnant women and their unborn children, cancer prevention plans, and WIC can help you keep your health in check during a time of no coverage.  It will keep you on your feet until you can afford or qualify for a long-term option.  (Don't forget to look into coverage for your kids!  Many times, the kids will qualify, even with the parent's won't.)

Look into spouse plans.  Does your husband work?  Can he pick up insurance?  Even if it didn't seem affordable before, it may be the most logical choice for a mom working from home.  Plans offered through employers have more protections than those purchased on your own (no pre-existing condition exclusions for pregnancy, for example.)  Even if you couldn't justify the cost before, it may be worth it now.

Seek affordable care.  Whether you have insurance, or not, it is wise to watch your costs when getting treated.  Places like Walgreens Take Care Clinics are usually more affordable than a traditional clinic, and they can get you seen, treated, and on your way quickly.  Many of these retail clinics also offer freebies (blood pressure screenings, for example.)  The best part of the clinics is that they are open and upfront about pricing (no surprise bills!)  Note that you will have to pay when you are seen, but with a transparent pricing list, it's something you can most definitely budget for!

Prevention is worth more than you know.  Get lots of sleep, drink plenty of fluids, avoid overdoing it -- even as you start your business.  If you can stay healthy, your costs will stay lower. You can also check out these other resources for staying covered while working from home:

Financial IQ Test: How Healthy is Your Health Plan? (Wise Bread)
Advice for Work at Home Moms (
Health Insurance and Working from Home (The Couch Worker)

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