Health Insurance for Freelancers
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.
- 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.
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 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 afee. You're much better off putting that money towards your health.
Find out the plan that best suits you and get covered today!
Looking for a job? In addition to encountering those annoying never-ending job interviews you may find yourself face-to-face with an artificial intelligence bot.
Companies worldwide increasingly use artificial intelligence tools and analytics in employment decision-making – from parsing through resumes and screening candidates to automated assessments and digital interviews. But recent studies claim that AI does more harm than good.
While AI screening tools were developed to save companies time and money, they’ve been criticized for placing women and people of color at a disadvantage. The problem is that many companies lack appreciable diversity in their data set, making it impossible for an algorithm to know how people from underrepresented groups have performed in the past. As a result, the algorithm will be biased toward the data available and compare future candidates to that archetype.
The City’s Automated Employment Decision Tools (AEDT) law is designed to offset the potential misuse of AI and protect job candidates against discrimination. It was enforced on July 5th, 2023 in New York City - with other cities and states expected to gradually follow suit. Employers must now inform applicants when and how they encounter AI. Furthermore, companies have to commission a third-party audit of the AI software used, and publish a summary of the results to prove that their systems aren’t racist or sexist. Job applicants are able to request information regarding what data is collected and analyzed by the AI. Violations of the law can result in fines of up to $1,500.
Replacing Human Hiring Decisions
However, should a job applicant want to opt-out of such impersonal judgement by a bot, the new law's scope is quite limited.
While the law specifies that instructions for requesting an alternative selection process must be included in the AI screening disclosure, companies aren't actually required to use other screening methods. Not to mention that the law only applies to AI in hiring and not any other employment decisions. It also wouldn't apply if the AI, for example, flags candidates with relevant experience, but a human then reviews all applications, making the ultimate hiring decision.
Some civil rights advocates and public interest groups argue that the law isn’t extensive enough and that it’s even unenforceable. On the other hand, businesses say that it’s impractical, costly, and burdensome, and that independent audits aren’t feasible.
Responsible use of AI in hiring
Although this law may be a good first attempt to assign more regulatory guardrails around AI, it remains to be seen if it ensures the responsible use of AI in hiring processes. At the end of the day, perhaps recruiting talent should remain a human-made decision.
The good news is that AI can help companies without harming potential job candidates in many ways – such as connecting new employees with internal organizational information and company benefits during onboarding. Or helping employees to do their jobs more effectively rather than replacing them.
There’s all this talk about solo travel. And for good reason — no wasting precious time waiting for others to get their act together, take the plans out of the group chat and actually buy the tickets. Going solo, you can be spontaneous. You can plan your trips according to your precise tastes. You can hop on any flight and fly awayyyyyy.
But what if each time you flew you’d get a free ticket? That’s what you get with the Southwest Companion Pass.
Award status, upgrades, lounge access — there are many perks in the frequent flier game. But one of the coveted holy grails is the Southwest Companion Pass.
What is the Southwest Companion Pass?
The Companion Pass is part of Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program. You get to choose one person to be your “companion,” and they fly with you for free (plus some taxes and fees) on every flight. That’s right. Two for the price of one. That’s half off each ticket if you split it! Whether you’re flying with a partner, family member, friend, or anyone else, they can tag along for free.
And it gets better: once you earn the pass, you can reap the rewards for that full calendar year … AND the next. That’s why people go mad trying to earn a companion pass during the early months of the year. The sooner you qualify, the longer you can use it.
There are also no blackout dates. There are no limits. And if you didn’t purchase the ticket (think: work travel, your companion, or a generous benefactor), there are no restrictions! As long as you’re the one on the plane, your companion can also … be on the plane.
You can also switch out your designated companion 3x a year. So, no need to stay in a relationship simply to get the most out of your companion pass! Ghost and fly away — with a whole new companion!
If this sounds too good to be true — it’s not. But there is one small catch. It’s kinda tough to earn this mega reward.
How to qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass?
You can qualify for the pass in one of two ways:
- Fly 100 qualifying one-way flights
- Earn 135,000 qualifying points in a calendar year.
Clearly, this is no small feat — especially if you’re trying to qualify ASAP.
So how do you actually earn the Southwest Companion Pass?
Don’t worry, there’s a path to earning this amazing reward without climbing on 100 flights or spending an exorbitant amount of money.
Earning 135K reward points may seem completely impossible, but it’s easier than it sounds. Simply sign up for a Southwest Credit Card and turn those spending habits into a rapid rewards account. Through the Rewards Priority Credit Card, earn points when using local transit and commuting, plus score major points and miles whenever you spend.
Stay with me here. This is not some scheme to get you into credit card debt. Many airline cards come with potential savings, giantic rewards, awarding you points, and cashback with every purchase you make that can be redeemed for travel. And often they can come with passive sign-up bonuses. If you spend a specific amount of money within a certain timeframe of opening the card, you can be in for a windfall of points.
Now that’s where the companion pass comes in:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card
- Southwest Priority Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card
- Southwest Performance Business Credit Card
Southwest has three personal cards and a business card. Each of these cards offers rewards between 30K-80K points. In the past, people could open two cards and get a bonus that granted enough points to almost meet the minimum. However, with new restrictions on personal cards, you can only get one bonus every 24 months. Boo!
However, this doesn’t apply to business cards. If you’re eligible, have good credit, and not likely to spiral into insane credit card debt, you can open a business card and a personal card, and accrue 100K+ points. The Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card will get you points after you spend money in no time.
Now to earn the rest of them.
The secret to gaining these credit card points is to plan your card sign-ups around big purchases. Just before a recent move, I opened a card . . . and the rewards came rolling in — a small balm to ease the pain of how exorbitant moving can be.
Put everyday spend — especially big purchases or bulk items — on your Southwest credit card and watch your award points quickly add up. Typically, you earn 1 point per $1 spent on your Southwest card and 2 points per $1 on actual Southwest purchases.
But there are other ways to earn points, including:
- Flying Southwest: Booking travel on Southwest earns more points. The cost of this travel will be worth it with your companion pass
- Shopping from Rapid Rewards Partners: Purchases with Southwest’s “Home & Lifestyle” and “Shop and Dine” Partners also earn Companion Pass qualifying points. While you shouldn’t make gratuitous purchases, browse Southwest’s partners to see if you could earn extra points for items you'd be purchasing anyway. All this, simply from enrolling in their Dining Program and shopping with their partners.
So there you have it! And since it’s almost Spring, get to earning and soon you’ll be flying two for the price of one!