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Independent Contractors + Medical Insurance

 
Bartender
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I've been independent for a while now and my wife's job has been providing our medical insurance. We are expecting a little one in January and we'd like to have Mom stay home for a while. What options are available here in the US for self-insurance? Some of the consulting firms I've been working through can provide benefits, but since I'm running about 6 months/contract I'd like to have some consistency and go it alone if it is feasable.
 
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That's actually an election issue. The cost of insuring oneself in the U.S. is close to prohibitive and has been for probably 15 years. I've talked to the CEO of a company that leased employees from a staffing company rather than hiring them directly because even with group rates it was costing too much. Another large company here in town went self-insured back in the '80s.

Unless things have changed recently, it's usually doable, but painful, so prepare to do some homework.

"Socialized Medicine" is an anathema in the United States. However, without affordable personal health care, it's been the burden of the corporation. This system worked OK back when corporations were places you worked until you retired, but it's long overdue for an overhaul. Neither "enterprenures" nor "perma-temps" fare well under such a system.
 
blacksmith
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The insurance is available. For example, here in Massachusetts, I used to get insurance through the Massachusetts Businessman's Association. It's just that you get to foot the whole bill, and suddenly you realize just how expensive it is and why it's such a big concern to businesses like the one your wife works for.

How much time does your wife want to take off? Her company may allow her a couple months of unpaid maternity leave, during which time they'll probably still pay for her insurance. She could also use COBRA for a few months, though that probably wouldn't be any cheaper than finding independent insurance.

There's a tension between (1) wanting to pay less for insurance, and (2) wanting insurance to cover more things. Paying for it yourself really brings home the fact that there's no free lunch here.
[ September 11, 2004: Message edited by: Warren Dew ]
 
Ranch Hand
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Given the pregnancy, I strongly advise you to continue your wife's group insurance with COBRA.

1. They can't turn you down.

2. You get 18 months without cancellation even with major claims.

3. You pay the company's share of the premium but it's still a group rate policy with no special premium for risk factors like pregnancy.

4. You won't get any nonsense about the pregnancy being a pre-existing condition, with two insurance companies fighting while the doctors bill YOU.

5. I wish you all the best, but remember that problem pregnancies can go into six figures before you can say NICU.

6. Your wife should consider starting with a 12 week leave of absence under the Family and Medical Leave Act. That way, she can get her job back with full insurance even if your child becomes uninsurable.

PS: I'm not an expert, just an insured like your wife. Double check everything I said. Get things in writing or at least names and date/time of conversation.
 
Joe Ess
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Originally posted by Mike Gershman:

6. Your wife should consider starting with a 12 week leave of absence under the Family and Medical Leave Act. That way, she can get her job back with full insurance even if your child becomes uninsurable.



In any case, my wife isn't leaving her job until after the delivery. We've looked into continuing her coverage with COBRA, and while it was more expensive than going through my contract company, it was less expensive than going it alone. I was just curious to see if I were missing any options. Doesn't look like it.
 
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