In our rapidly evolving job market, freelance work offers both a source of income and new kinds of financial and career-related freedom to millions of people. But what exactly is gig work? Gig work, often referred to as the gig economy, is a work arrangement where individuals take on short-term, freelance, or on-demand jobs rather than traditional 9 to 5 employment.
When thinking of freelance workers and their importance in the economy, we also include those whose work is entrepreneurial in nature. This kind of work can span across industries, from ridesharing and food delivery to freelance writing and graphic design.
In this article, we’ll touch on the definitions of gig work and what kind of insurance options are available to those who make their income this way, from health insurance to vision insurance. By the end, we’re hoping that as a self-employed worker you feel more confident to make a great choice for your insurance needs.
The popularity of entrepreneurship is soaring for several reasons. First, it provides individuals with greater flexibility. Instead of being tied to a rigid office schedule, some gig workers can choose when and where they work, which can be especially appealing in an increasingly remote work-friendly world. Freelance work also allows people to diversify their income sources, making it a great option for those seeking financial security.
However, in entrepreneurial work, there's a catch — workers often lack the safety net of traditional employment, including health and eye insurance. Because a gig worker is contracting, they’re not an employee of the company they provide services to. This typically means insurance through the company is not an option.
Health insurance is a crucial aspect of well-being, and for entrepreneurs it operates differently than for those in traditional employment. Here's the lowdown on typical health insurance options for gig workers, freelancers, or the self-employed.
ACA/Marketplace Insurance Plans: Many gig workers turn to the health insurance marketplace. There, you can compare various insurance plans and find one that suits your needs and budget. Subsidies are available based on your income, making it an affordable option for many.
COBRA Coverage: If you recently left a traditional job, you might have the option to continue your previous employer's health insurance coverage through COBRA. However, this can be costly.
Medicaid/Medicare: Depending on your income level, you may qualify for Medicaid, a government program that provides health insurance for low-income individuals and families. And if you are over 65, you may be eligible to enroll in Medicare coverage.
Short-Term Insurance Plans: Some self-employed workers opt for short-term health insurance plans, which offer limited coverage but can be more affordable. Keep in mind that these plans may not cover pre-existing conditions and have coverage limitations.
Maintaining good eye health is quite important, and gig workers shouldn't overlook it. Most traditional health insurance plans don't cover vision care, so you'll need a separate vision insurance plan, like a plan from VSP to take care of your eye-related expenses.
Let’s examine how eye insurance options typically look for those in the gig economy.
Employer-Sponsored Vision Plans: Employer-sponsored vision plans are rare, but if your gig work comes with any benefits, you may be lucky enough to have an employer-sponsored vision plan. These plans often cover regular eye exams, glasses, and contact lenses.
Standalone Vision Insurance Plans: For gig workers without access to an employer-sponsored vision plan, standalone vision insurance is the way to go. These vision plans can help cover the cost of eye exams, frames, lenses, and contact lenses. While vision insurance comes with a cost, the benefits will nearly always save you money in the long run.
Discount Programs: Some organizations and vision care providers offer discount programs that can provide savings on eye care expenses. These programs may be more affordable than traditional vision insurance.
No matter what vision coverage you choose, it’s important to look for a vision insurance plan that includes a network of reputable eye care professionals in your area. With VSP eye insurance, you’ll have access to a huge network of eye doctors all over the country.
Navigating the labyrinth of health insurance options as a gig worker can be a daunting task, but it's not impossible. Here are some steps to help you find quality health insurance, including vision insurance, if you’re a gig worker, freelancer, or are self-employed.
1. Evaluate Your Healthcare Needs: Start by assessing your healthcare needs. Consider your age, any pre-existing conditions, and whether you have a family to cover. This will help you determine the level of coverage you require.
2. Budget Considerations: Determine how much you can afford to spend on health insurance premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket expenses. Keep in mind that it's a balancing act between cost and coverage.
3. Explore the Insurance Marketplace: Visit the health insurance marketplace in your country, such as Healthcare.gov in the United States. Compare the available insurance plans, check if you qualify for subsidies, and choose a plan that aligns with your needs.
4. Consider the Network of Each Plan: Ensure your preferred doctors and healthcare facilities are in the network of the insurance plan you choose. Out-of-network care can be significantly more expensive.
5. Understand the Coverage of Your Plan: Thoroughly read and understand the terms and conditions of your chosen insurance plan. Be aware of what's covered, what's not covered, and any exclusions.
6. Think Long-Term: When selecting an insurance plan, consider your long-term health and financial goals. Think about the stability of your gig work and any future changes in your health.
7. Seek Professional Help: If the insurance jargon becomes too overwhelming, don't hesitate to consult with an insurance broker or advisor. They can provide expert guidance to help you make an informed decision.
8. Enroll and Stay Informed: Once you've selected a vision or healthcare insurance plan, complete the enrollment process. It's crucial to stay informed about your insurance, understanding how to use it, pay premiums, and access care.
In a world where entrepreneurship is thriving, it's essential for individuals to understand how health and eye insurance works in these employment scenarios. While it may seem daunting at first, quality insurance options are available for both healthcare and eye care.
Remember that the gig economy is all about flexibility, and your insurance choices should align with that. You have the power to tailor your coverage to your needs, budget, and future aspirations. By following the steps we've outlined, you can navigate the world of insurance with confidence and ensure your health and vision are well-protected on your professional journey.
Get started today! The VSP Vision Plan Wizard can find the vision plan that’s right for you and your family.
Healthy vision association discounts
Some plans can only be accessed through membership in the Healthy Vision Association (HVA), which helps its members see well and stay healthy.
For $1.50/mo, your membership will give you access to exclusive discount programs* on everyday goods and services including:
Plus, your membership supports vision-related charities too.
*All rebates and special offers are subject to change