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Gig economy

Health Benefits for Independent Contractors

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With the rise of the gig economy, more individuals are opting to work as independent contractors, enjoying the flexibility and autonomy that comes with self-employment. However, one of the significant challenges they face is securing adequate health benefits. Unlike traditional employees who receive health benefits from their employers, independent contractors need to source their own health benefits plans. This article delves into various health benefits options available to independent contractors, helping you make an informed decision about your healthcare needs.

Private Health Insurance Marketplaces

One of the primary options for independent contractors is to purchase a health insurance plan through a private health insurance marketplace. These marketplaces offer various plans, ranging from high-deductible catastrophic plans to more comprehensive policies. Some popular private insurance companies include UnitedHealthcare, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Aetna.

When selecting a plan, consider factors such as monthly premiums, deductibles, copayments, and the network of healthcare providers. It’s crucial to evaluate your healthcare needs and budget to choose a plan that offers the right level of coverage.

Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplaces

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, provides another avenue for independent contractors to obtain health insurance. The ACA established state and federal marketplaces where individuals can compare and purchase health insurance plans. These marketplaces often offer subsidies based on income, making healthcare more affordable for low to moderate-income individuals.

Open enrollment periods for ACA marketplaces typically occur annually, but special enrollment periods may be available for those experiencing qualifying life events, such as marriage, birth of a child, or loss of other coverage. To explore your options, visit or your state’s marketplace website.

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are tax-advantaged savings accounts designed to help individuals save for medical expenses. To qualify, you must enroll in a high-deductible health plan (HDHP). Contributions to an HSA are tax-deductible, and withdrawals for qualified medical expenses are tax-free. Additionally, any unused funds in the HSA roll over year after year, and the account can earn interest or be invested, potentially growing your savings over time.

For independent contractors seeking flexibility in how they pay for medical expenses, an HSA paired with an HDHP can be a valuable part of their health benefits strategy.

Professional Associations and Unions

Many professional associations and unions offer group health insurance plans to their members, sometimes at lower rates than individual plans. If you belong to a professional organization related to your industry, such as the Freelancers Union, you may have access to quality health insurance options.

These plans often provide a good balance between cost and coverage, leveraging the collective bargaining power of the association or union to negotiate favorable terms with insurance providers.

Short-Term Health Insurance

Short-term health insurance plans, also known as temporary health insurance, provide limited coverage for a short duration, typically up to one year. These plans are designed to bridge gaps in coverage, such as between jobs or while awaiting eligibility for a more comprehensive plan.

While short-term health insurance can be more affordable than traditional plans, they often come with significant limitations, such as exclusion of pre-existing conditions and less coverage for essential health benefits. Independent contractors should carefully review the terms and conditions to ensure that a short-term plan meets their needs.

Health Care Sharing Ministries

Health care sharing ministries are faith-based organizations that provide an alternative to traditional health insurance. Members of these ministries contribute monthly shares to support each other’s medical expenses. These programs are typically more affordable than traditional insurance but may come with restrictions based on faith or lifestyle choices.

While not considered comprehensive health insurance and not regulated by state insurance departments, healthcare sharing ministries can be a viable option for those seeking community-based support for healthcare costs.


Securing health benefits as an independent contractor may require more effort than traditional employment, but numerous options are available to meet your needs. From private and ACA marketplaces to HSAs, professional associations, short-term insurance, and health care sharing ministries, independent contractors can find suitable health insurance solutions. By assessing your healthcare requirements and financial situation, you can choose the best plan to ensure your health and financial well-being.