If you've decided to take the freelancer route, it can be exciting and somewhat scary at the same time. Your career is essentially in your hands which can be a blessing as well as something that can leave a world of unknowns before you.

One thing you needn't worry about is health insurance, despite the pre-conceived ideas about a freelancer's ability to find coverage you had in your mind as you embarked on your career journey. Your health is as important as anything else in your life, so don't let lack of coverage prevent you from getting the care and treatment you may need now and in the future. Freelancers can indeed get health insurance, and here are some ways to do it.

Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare)

According to ObamaCare Facts, most of the healthcare provisions in the ACA are available to freelancers. Freelancers can take advantage of tax deductions related to health care as well as reduce the cost of health coverage. The benefit to the self-employed is that health insurance premiums are fully deductible on tax returns for the freelancer and their dependents.

Of course there are restrictions, so visit the U.S Department of Health & Human Services for specifics, but in a nutshell, Make a Living Writing gives some key takeaways:

  • You must be a legal U.S. resident and have a low income
  • Legal immigrants can obtain coverage
  • All basics covered, even dental
  • Not low-income? Check out the Healthcare Marketplace which offers a bunch of plans

Whatever your feelings about Obama may be, this plan has been helpful for many a freelancer seeking health coverage thanks to this program.

COBRA

As per HealthCare.gov, COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) is, "A federal law that may allow you to temporarily keep health coverage after your employment ends, you lose coverage as a dependent of the covered employee, or another qualifying event. If you elect COBRA coverage, you pay 100% of the premiums, including the share the employer used to pay, plus a small administrative fee."

So if you freelance now but used to be employed by another, COBRA can be a smart coverage choice. That said, there are specifications to this type of coverage. One instance is that coverage won't last forever. As per Make a Living Writing, coverage is only extended up to 18 months. This bides you some time to find a new plan once you establish your next career move. In addition, premiums can be pricy, but since you may have no other option at the time, COBRA will save you from paying full out-of-pocket costs which can be astronomical.

Your Spouse's Plan

If you are married or in some cases have a legal partnership that allows for one person to be on the other's health plan, hopping aboard their plan can be a great option. Naturally, every plan has its own rules and regulations, so read the fine print to make sure the added costs are not too high and this is the best coverage plan for your needs. As per Make a Living Writing, the author noted, "Cost-compare. At one point, we discovered my husband's employer's policy was actually worse for coverage and more expensive than self-insuring, so we switched."

VeryWell suggests, "If you and your spouse or partner are both eligible for employee health benefits, check out each company's health insurance options during open enrollment to see which may cost you less. Employers differ considerably in the amount of premium contributions and you may be able to save money by switching to your spouse's family coverage."

To make sure you are making the right decision, WebMD advises, "If you have questions, call the health plan or your company's human resources manager and ask for help. Also check to see what tools or resources are available. Some employers offer worksheets or online tools to help you estimate costs and compare plans."

Freelancers Union

Freelancers Insurance Agency (FIA) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Freelancers Union and is a licensed health insurance provider in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, District of Columbia, and Virginia, and works in contract with HealthPlanServices, Inc., a nationally licensed insurance provider.

Dental coverage is provided via Guardian and freelancers can get an average savings on dental costs of 35%. For more details, visit, Freelancers Union.

There's no need to go without some type of health coverage as a freelancer. Don't let the upfront costs turn you off, as they will save you hundreds, if not thousands over time if you need to see a doctor, require hospital stay, surgery, or something else health-related. Not to mention, if you can afford insurance and opt not to buy it, you will be responsible to pay a fee. You're much better off putting that money towards your health.

Find out the plan that best suits you and get covered today!

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What do you do when financial hardship hits and you can't make your monthly mortgage payments? This is a question on many homeowner's minds as nearly 17.8 million Americans are reportedly unemployed during the coronavirus pandemic.

When homeowners face financial hardship, such as the loss of a job, they often look to obtain a forbearance agreement from their lender. A forbearance happens when your lender grants you a temporary pause or reduction in monthly payments on your mortgage. Forbearance is not the same as payment forgiveness, in that you still have to pay the entire amount back by an agreed-upon time.

Mortgage lending institutions differ on their mortgage relief policies and qualifications; however, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act were signed into law in late March of this year to protect government-backed mortgages.

Federally backed mortgages include:

  • Fannie Mae
  • Freddie Mac
  • The Federal Housing Administration (FHA)
  • The US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA)
  • The US Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Under the CARES Act, homeowners with a federally backed loan who either directly or indirectly suffer financial hardship due to coronavirus automatically qualify for mortgage forbearance.

Even if your mortgage is not secured by one of these agencies, you still can call and see if you qualify, as many lenders will still offer the option in order to avoid foreclosures.

Under the CARES act, homeowners can claim mortgage forbearance due to financial hardship from COVID-19 for up to 12 months without requiring any documentation or verification. During the forbearance period, mortgage lenders cannot charge late fees or penalties.

Additionally, as long as your mortgage is current at the time you claim forbearance, the lender is required to keep reporting your mortgage as paid current throughout the entire period.

At the end of the forbearance, the CARES act protects consumers from having to make a lump sum payment. Instead, you will be given a repayment plan from your provider. Since repayment options vary, it's important you ask your provider about all of your repayment options.

Possible Repayment Options:

You may be eligible for a loan modification at the end of your forbearance. With modification, the mortgage terms are changed in order to add payments that were missed during the forbearance onto the end of the loan, extending the term.

Another option that may work for some is a reduced payment option. This allows you to keep paying monthly payments at a reduced amount. The amount missed is usually added back into the monthly payments at the end of the forbearance.

For example:

Regular payment: $1000 per month

Reduced payment: $500 per month

Payment after forbearance period: $1500 (until caught up)

Balloon payments, or lump sum payments at the end of the forbearance, are prohibited under the CARES Act. However, mortgage lenders may require homeowners who are not protected under the CARES Act to make a balloon payment at the end, so again it is best to check first with your provider.

Mortgage forbearance should only be considered in true financial hardship. In other words, just because of the pandemic, you should not take a forbearance on your mortgage if you can still afford your payments. Likewise, if you are able to start making payments before the forbearance period is up, it's best to do so as soon as possible.

The Next Steps:

Before you get in touch with your mortgage servicer, save time by gathering as much documentation about the mortgage as you can. Also, be ready to list your income and monthly expenses. Due to an influx in calls, financial institutions are experiencing extremely long wait times right now, and having your information at the ready will help.

Have questions ready to ask. Here are some questions you should be asking:

  • What fees are associated with the forbearance?
  • What are all the repayment options available to you at the end of the forbearance?
  • Will you be charged interest during the forbearance period?

If your forbearance is approved, make sure to keep all documentation pertaining to it. Make sure to cancel any automatic payments to the mortgage during the forbearance period, and keep tabs on your credit report to make sure your lender doesn't report the loan as unpaid.


For more information on forbearance, contact your lender and discuss your options. If you need more assistance with understanding your options, you can contact a local agent for the housing counseling agency, or call their hotline at 1-800-569-4287.