Today’s post is a guest post by Michael Cahill. Find more info about Michael at the bottom of the article.

The Affordable Care Act For Freelance Photographers

There is one thing that a freelance photographer doesn’t want to worry about, it’s probably their health insurance. You’d probably rather spend your time getting clients and learning new tricks of the trade, but you have to deal with this painful necessity. The pain comes when you see how much your premium is. When it comes to buying health insurance, few people have to suffer more than freelancers.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) though is revising the American healthcare system, and in the process making things easier on freelancers. However, the ACA is a big, complex piece of legislation. You have better things to do than figure this stuff out, so we are here to give a helping hand with our quick start guide on the ACA.

Get A Picture Of The Available Plans
Chances are you have heard quite a bit about the federal health insurance exchange at (and its technical problems). This is likely going to be where you will get insurance, but first check the Kaiser Family Foundation’s list of states that run their own exchanges to see if yours is on there.

At the federal exchange, you’ll notice that health insurance plans are divided up into four different levels, each named after a metal. These levels are: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum and in that order their premiums and coverage go low to high. As you can see, you have a big range to work with. It’s also worth noting that as premiums increase across metal levels, out of pocket expenses go down. So for example a Gold plan will cost you more each month than a Bronze plan, but the Gold plan will have lower copays and deductibles than the Bronze plan.

Learn About The Essential Health Benefits
These metallic exchange plans, as well as every other plan, now come packed with a set of essential health benefits. These ACA mandated benefits include things such as ambulatory services, rehabilitative services and much more. Now, here is the thing: These benefits are categories of medical services, not actual medical services. The federal government has allowed each state to decide on the specific services that their plans will offer under these benefits.

Saving Money Is Always A Good Thing
Tax credits are probably the part of the ACA that interests you the most. Basically if you make between 100 percent and 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Line, you are getting a tax credit. The actual amount of your tax credit is going to vary based on any number of things, so you won’t know for sure how much it is until you start applying for health insurance. That being said, the Kaiser Family Foundation has a subsidy calculator that will give you an idea of your potential savings.

Become An ACA Master
Don’t rush into buying a plan. You need to know exactly how much you’ve spent on healthcare in the past. This way you can actually see how much money a plan is going to save you. You also should evaluate everything that is going to have an effect on what kind of plan you need. How has your health been? How big is your family? Do you have any prescriptions? What about preexisting conditions?

In addition to knowing about yourself, it is crucial to learn more about the ACA. It is a pretty comprehensive law, so there is quite a bit to learn. You might want to talk to a licensed insurance broker. They know this stuff inside and out, and they can provide you with everything you need to know to pick the right plan for you and your family. Once everything is in order, go to the exchange and get that plan.

Michael Cahill is the Editor of the Vista Health Solutions Blog. He writes about the health care system, health insurance industry and the Affordable Care Act. Follow him on Twitter at @VistaHealthMike

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