What the Affordable Care Act Means for Writers

Last week, the Supreme Court ruled that President Obama’s Affordable Care Act is legal. While there's still much debate on whether it's the right move for the people and the economy, the provisions of the law provide significant benefits for self-employed workers like us freelance writers.

If you have private health insurance or you’re covered under a spouse’s health insurance, nothing much will change for you. The law currently prohibits lifetime limits on health insurance plans and in 2014, annual limits will also be illegal.

The law guarantees coverage for children under 19 with pre-existing conditions. This is good news if you have a child with a medical condition who can't be added to your health insurance, for whatever reason. Additionally, young adults under age 26 can stay on their parents’ health insurance plan.

Perhaps the best benefits are for individual workers with pre-existing conditions who can't get access to a group or individual plan. Some of the simplest conditions, like asthma, high blood pressure, or acne, can be considered a pre-existing condition, depending on the insurance company. Even things you’ve recovered from can be considered pre-existing conditions.

Currently, private health insurance companies have the right to deny coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions. Or they may approve you, but decline to cover any expenses related to the pre-existing condition. In 2014, insurance companies will no longer be allowed to refuse coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.

Until the last of the Affordable Care Act becomes effective in 2014, there are government health plans for people who’ve been without health insurance for six months due to a pre-existing condition. Coverage does include services related to the pre-existing condition. Every state has a pre-existing condition plan. Some states run their own program while others may offer the plan issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Your small business might be eligible for tax credits if you cover at least 50% of the cost of single health care for your employee(s) and you provide health insurance for your full-time employee(s) whose wages are less than a certain amount. (Two half-time workers can count as one-full time employee.) You can read through the IRS page on the subject or talk to your accountant if you think your business qualifies. It's something to think about if you're planning to expand your business and hire other writers or assistants.

Benefits for Everyone

Preventative care is free under all plans. Certain services are covered by all plans without a deductible, co-pay, or coinsurance.

In 2014, insurance companies won’t be allowed to discriminate based on pre-existing conditions or gender. They also will not be able to charge higher rates due to gender or health status. Many health insurance plans currently charge higher rates for women. This practice should be eliminated in 2014.

Health insurance can be tricky for self-employed workers. The Affordable Care Act will make it a little easier for everyone to get access to a health insurance plan. The real affordability of that plan remains to be seen.

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LaToya Irby is a full-time freelance writer and a graduate of the University of Alabama. She primarily writes about personal finance, freelancing, and other self-employment topics.

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5 thoughts on “What the Affordable Care Act Means for Writers”

  1. Great reminder about health insurance for freelance writers.

    It’s important to shop around for health insurance and to understand the fine print. Ask questions if you don’t understand what you’re signing. I think if people knew the ‘true cost’ of health care and medications, they’ll probably fall over. Most people don’t realize that pills cost as little as $1.00 to manufacture, yet they’re extremely marked up. Talk about making a profit! Also, watch those medical codes. You could be charged for services that you never had. Read your medical statements carefully and question charges you don’t understand. Finally, listen to your body. Get second and third opinions if you must.

  2. Great idea putting this in the perspective of freelancers, LaToya.

    There’s another twist in this. If you are on a “grandfathered” plan, there are some provisions the insurer does not have to comply with. For example, the cost sharing on preventive services. You can request a policy that covers preventive at 100 percent, but the insurer can also raise the premium for that plan.

    I’m biased because I’m a licensed broker, but I recommend finding a good broker who specializes in individual health insurance.

  3. In the next few years, if this Act really does make healthcare affordable, freelancing will be attractive to many more people than in the past. Needing to keep your job to keep health insurance is a major stumbling block to many who yearn for self-employment. People who are working long hours in cubicles will realize that they can duplicate or even surpass corporate income if they no longer have to pay huge amounts for insurance.

    Diana Schneidman, Author of Start Freelancing And Consulting: How to take control of your life and make great money quickly as a solopro


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