Risky Business
A Small Business Insurance Guide for Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers

Chapter 3: Special Concerns
Part 2: Health Insurance for Independent Stock Brokers and Insurance Agents

Independent contractors generally don't receive employer-based healthcare coverage. If this is true for you, you're responsible for purchasing your own health insurance (unless you're already covered through a spouse's plan.

Uninsured independent contractors must purchase their own healthcare coverage.

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Since the Affordable Care Act took effect in 2014, most Americans have been required to carry healthcare coverage. Uninsured independent contractors and other small-business owners can purchase health insurance on the government's Individuals and Families Health Insurance Marketplace during open enrollment. (To learn more about your health insurance options, read, "What If I'm Self-Employed?" on the government's healthcare website.)

How the Affordable Care Act Affects Independent Brokers & Agents

Depending on your professional and personal situation, you may or may not need to purchase health insurance coverage in order to comply with ACA regulations. Here are things to keep in mind:

  • Part-timers. If you run your brokerage on the side and work as an employee elsewhere, your employer-based health benefits should fulfill your coverage obligations. Still, you might want to check out the Marketplace anyway. Perhaps you'll find comparable coverage at a lower price. To learn more about your options, read Healthcare.gov's article, "What If I Have Job-Based Insurance?"
  • Spouses. If you already receive benefits through your spouse's health insurance plan, there's no need to purchase your own policy.
  • Individual policy owners. If you already carry an individual health insurance policy, you can simply keep your existing plan.
  • You don't have health insurance. According to the "individual mandate" portion of the Affordable Care Act, most Americans must carry health coverage or pay a fine. To learn more about the individual mandate, check out Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island's Individual Mandate Fact Sheet.

Failure to carry Health Insurance could result in a fine — one that increases each year you go uninsured.

If you are required to carry health insurance coverage and choose not to, you will be…

  • Fined. The fine is based off your household income and increases in severity each year.
  • Responsible for healthcare costs. If you are uninsured and need medical care, you will not be eligible for financial assistance.

To learn more about noncompliance penalties, check out the article, "What If Someone Doesn't Have Health Coverage?"

The Cost of Health Coverage

The price of your health insurance policy depends on a several factors, including your…

  • Annual income.
  • Family size.
  • State of residence.
  • Smoking status.

Independent contractors may be surprised to learn that they might qualify for government subsidies, which make your premium more affordable. If your annual income falls between 100 percent and 400 percent of the poverty line, you will qualify for a subsidy. That means individuals who make up to $46,000 a year will get assistance. A family of four can make up to $94,000 a year and still qualify for lower premiums.

To estimate your subsidy, use the Kaiser Family Foundation's subsidy calculator.

Next: Chapter 4: Insuring Your Independent Brokerage

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