Tuesday

Saving when Self-Employed: Health and Dental


Those who become self-employed are often happy to discover the benefits that go along with contract work, such as a flexible schedule and getting to be your own boss.  But there are also some major drawbacks: you don’t get any medical and dental benefits and the cost to purchase a plan on your own can be a little hard to justify without a stable income.  And yet, you’re still going to need medical and dental care.  So how can you get it for less?  Here are just a few ways that you can lower the cost of insurance or even medical and dental treatments when you come out from under the umbrella of the RFT (regular full-time) working world and enter self-employment.
For starters, insurance may be out of the questions with your budget, especially if you’re just starting out, your client list is small, and your work sporadic.  This can be a stressful situation for a couple of reasons.  First, it means that you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket for your regular office visits (your annual physical, dental cleanings, and so on).  Without insurance, you may go from a $15 co-pay to a full payment of around $100 (or more).  That can really sting when you have an uncertain income and plenty of other bills.  But don’t start cancelling appointments just yet.

First, talk to your doctor and dentist about options.  Some are willing to make concessions for patients that have no insurance so that they’ll keep up with preventive care.  This could mean that your bill is less if you pay cash (some doctors are willing to cut your bill by up to half if you use greenbacks instead of plastic).  And since an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, this strategy will likely save you money and heartache in the long run, as well.  Your doctor and dentist may also be able to put you on a sliding fee scale or payment plan, and many can offer you samples of pharmaceuticals rather than making you purchase them.  A good health care provider will find ways to ensure that you continue to receive the medical attention you need in an affordable way.

Of course, your current medical and dental offices may still be too expensive.  In this case you can look into clinics in your area that provide care for those without insurance, often at more affordable rates than private practitioners.  Ask about signing up for state health care coverage; they should be able to give you information about the programs available in your particular state.  Often they are free for those in a certain income bracket (although you may have a co-pay for services).  They may also be able to direct you to prescription assistance programs in your area if you are in need of pricy medications that have no generic alternative (although you can also find these online).

Finally, you may actually want to look into getting insured.  This may be a little more expensive up front, but there are discount plans available for both medical and dental (the Aetna dental plan, for example, could cost you as little as $100 per year and save you 15-50% on many dental procedures).  And having a health insurance policy in place will give you peace of mind and ensure that at least a portion of your costs are covered should you need something more than a checkup.

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