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What You Need to Know About Insurance When You’re Self Employed

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By Barbara Beauregard   |    December 7, 2016   |    12:47 PM


The Affordable Care Act has some key implications for how self-employed professionals acquire, maintain and pay for health coverage. With the 2017 enrollment deadline fast approaching, let's look at some key facts that affect the self-employed.

How Am I Affected?

If you’re self-employed, the majority of ACA healthcare provisions apply to you. That said, there are some unique ways you can reduce the cost of coverage and leverage health-related tax deductions. If you are a freelancer, independent contractor or run a business on your own, you can deduct health care premiums for you and your dependents. What’s more, the ability to deduct medical expenses has no impact on your right for tax credits or other cost assistance.

At the same time, there are some key requirements, limitations and added benefits you should be aware of. These include:

  • Like everyone else, the self-employed are required to acquire and maintain Minimum Essential Coverage to avoid a tax penalty.

  • You can qualify for cost assistance - Medicaid, Cost Sharing Reduction Subsidies, CHIP, Premium Tax Credits - depending on your household income.

  • You can acquire individual health insurance and cost assistance at your state’s marketplace or via the Federal Exchange.

  • You will only be able to obtain marketplace health insurance during open enrollment, unless you meet the requirements for a special enrollment period.

  • All marketplace savings are dependent on your projected net income for the coming year; if you end up netting less or more than what you projected, you will need to update your marketplace application to avoid having to pay back tax credits.

  • All medical and dental insurance premiums are tax deductible, as long as you were not eligible for a group medical plan through your spouse’s employer. If you were eligible for a group plan, you can still deduct health care costs that exceed 10 percent of your adjusted gross income using itemized medical deductions.

Am I Self-employed?

If you are self-employed, you qualify for generous medical deduction opportunities. On the other hand, if you have even one employee, you are no longer self-employed in the eyes of the federal government. In this instance, you may be able to use the SHOP marketplace to provide health insurance coverage to your employees. To maintain their status as self-employed, many entrepreneurs choose to hire independent contractors to handle key operational tasks for their businesses.

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