Why is retired NBA star Adrian Dantley working as a crossing guard in Montgomery County, Maryland, earning a mere $14,685 annually? The 58 year-old Hall of Famer who played mostly for the Utah Jazz and coached for the Denver Nuggets during his stellar basketball career, admits he doesn’t need the income, but Dantley, like millions of Americans, is working primarily for the healthcare benefits that his new employer provides.

Individual Health Insurance When Your Self EmployedHealth Insurance for the Self-Employed

These days, healthcare is a chief concern for Americans and self-employed individuals rank worry over finding adequate health insurance coverage as one of the top drawbacks to owning their own business. But entrepreneurship doesn’t have to mean losing affordable health care. Contrary to what many Americans believe, you don’t have to work for someone else in order to have access to health insurance.

An estimated 42 million people—about one-third of the American work force—are self-employed. Some are young workers starting their own new businesses and others are older, often “retired” individuals who are continuing to work in some entrepreneurial capacity and they all need healthcare. In fact, individual health insurance policies are available and may be exactly the right solution for you.

Individual Health Insurance Benefits

One of the greatest benefits of individual health insurance policies is that there are no employer restrictions. Each individual can customize their policy and provider to their needs. Consider the following:

  • While employer-based health insurance provides employees with limited options, individual health insurance allows purchasers to select the specific coverage they need. For example, with his former employer, Jim’s health coverage included maternity benefits, but as a single adult male, Jim didn’t need such coverage. Buying a policy without that coverage saves Jim money.
  • Employer-based health insurance presents employees with a take-it-or-leave-it provider option but a self-employed consumer has the freedom to investigate and then choose from a variety of providers, finding the one who can give him or her the best coverage.
  • It might surprise many Americans to know that individual health insurance rates are often equal to or lower than employer-based health insurance. Because the coverage is streamlined for the individual and more companies are competing for the individual policy holder, there are better prices available.

How to Save Money on Individual Health Insurance

As your own boss, you can compare and select a health insurance policy from one of many companies who are vying for your business. Various factors will impact the rates you can find, including where you live, the ages and health of those who are being covered and the type of policy you need. Shop around for best rates and the best coverage from the provider that will work best for you. And remember that as a self-employer, you can deduct 100% of the cost of health insurance premiums from your federal income taxes. This is a great benefit to individuals and puts them on a more equal footing with big business which has long been able to count insurance premiums as a business expense.

In addition to selecting the right policy, you can select the amount of deductible that you want. A higher deductible will lower your annual premiums and make your policy more affordable. Paying for smaller medical expenses out of pocket until your deductible is met will reduce your rates and still give you the risk protection of an unexpected major medical emergency.

Home-Based Businesses May Mean Greater Savings

If you run a cottage business (from your own home), you may be able to access health coverage through a home-based business program. The Small Business Service Bureau (SBSB), AARP (for people over 50) and industry-specific trade associations sometimes offer health insurance plans to small businesses. Contact your state’s insurance commissioner’s office to find out what is available in your area.

Your dream of being your own boss, setting your own hours and following your dream doesn’t have to mean a sacrifice in health insurance benefits for you and your family. Individual health insurance policies can be an important part to building your dream.