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Published: Jan 02, 2023 20 min read
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Best Gold Plans
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HighlightsPopular insurance company with low-cost Gold plans and an expansive provider network.High-end insurance plans with eligibility for maximum premium tax credits through the ACA.Popular insurance company with a great provider network and various coverage options.Convenient, low-cost plans available in 12 U.S. states, offering home delivery for prescriptions.A widespread insurance company with low-cost Bronze and Silver plans.An affordable healthcare company with flexible PPO plans, great for Medicare Advantage.
AM Best RatingVaries by region (average of A)AAABA-
Copay Starting Rate$10$20$0$0$0$0
Best Gold Plans
Blue Cross Blue Shield
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Popular insurance company with low-cost Gold plans and an expansive provider network.
AM Best Rating
Varies by region (average of A)
Copay Starting Rate
Best for Tax Credits
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High-end insurance plans with eligibility for maximum premium tax credits through the ACA.
AM Best Rating
Copay Starting Rate
Best Expansive Provider Network
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Popular insurance company with a great provider network and various coverage options.
AM Best Rating
Copay Starting Rate
Best for Prescriptions
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Convenient, low-cost plans available in 12 U.S. states, offering home delivery for prescriptions.
AM Best Rating
Copay Starting Rate
Best Pricing
Molina Healthcare
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A widespread insurance company with low-cost Bronze and Silver plans.
AM Best Rating
Copay Starting Rate
Best for PPO Plans
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An affordable healthcare company with flexible PPO plans, great for Medicare Advantage.
AM Best Rating
Copay Starting Rate

With so many available options and complicated contracts to look at, self-employed individuals may struggle to find the best health insurance plan to fit their needs. Fortunately, plenty of companies offer comprehensive plans and fair pricing for self-employed individuals.

Read on for reviews of the best self-employed health insurance plans, plus a guide to finding a plan that aligns with your health-related requirements and financial situation.

Our Top Picks for the Best Health Insurance for the Self- Employed

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Best Health Insurance for the Self-Employed Reviews

  • Available in all 50 states and internationally
  • Expansive provider network
  • Best value for a Gold plan
  • Difficult to find a servicer in some regions
  • Customer service varies by region

Why we chose it: Blue Cross Blue Shield is a reputable health insurance company with a huge provider network. Its Gold plan offers comprehensive coverage with low out-of-pocket maximums for self-employed individuals and their families.

We included this company on our list of the best self-employed insurance options for its affordable Gold plans. "Gold" health insurance plans offer lower out-of-pocket costs for higher monthly premiums and are generally a good option for people who often use medical services.

Gold plans also benefit self-employed individuals who would rather know up front how much they’re going to spend on healthcare (and fit it into their budgeting plans), even with the higher monthly premiums.

The insurer also has a vast provider network throughout a broad coverage area, with around 1.7 million participating doctors and hospitals across the country.

The main drawback of this insurance provider is that it's made up of a network of 35 regional companies. That means customer service can vary by location. For example, JD Power ranks Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois as No. 1 for customer satisfaction, but it's ranked much lower in California.

Depending on the region, this company has A, A- or A+ ratings with the credit rating agency AM Best. It also gets an A+ from the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

Physician copays start at $10, and some plans include health and wellness discounts for gym memberships and fitness equipment. You can also add dental insurance for kids and adults to your plan.

Overall, Blue Cross Blue Shield provides a dependable option for a self-employed person who wants low premiums and a large provider network.

  • Lower your premium costs through the ACA
  • 24/7 virtual care available (starting at $0)
  • Free or low-cost MinuteClinic services
  • ACA plans have limited coverage areas
  • More expensive without tax credits

Why we chose it: Aetna's plans are eligible for the maximum premium tax credit, meaning you can offset your health insurance costs depending on your income. This option is solid if you’re starting a freelance career and want to access coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Aetna offers a variety of HMO, PPO and EPO plans, with all plans eligible for the maximum premium reduction provided through the Affordable Care Act. That means you can reduce your premium costs based on your income.

For example, if you make less than 150% of the federal poverty level, you could purchase a Silver plan through Aetna and contribute as little as $0. Unfortunately, those tax credits aren't available nationwide. Therefore, you should talk to an Aetna agent about your options based on location and income or see your plan options by entering your zip code on Aetna's website.

Another benefit for self-employed professionals on a budget is Aetna's low-cost MinuteClinic services. You can visit a local MinuteClinic for preventive and emergency services for as low as $0. Members can also access 24/7 virtual care for free. For other services, physician copays start at $20.

Aetna is not the most affordable option if you don't qualify for premium tax credits through the ACA. However, the company has a reputation for dependability, with an A rating from AM Best and an A+ from the BBB.

  • Expansive provider network
  • Highly rated customer service
  • Easy-to-use app for plan information and card
  • Higher-cost premiums for individuals
  • Limited plan options in some states

Why we chose it: With 1.3 million healthcare providers and over 6,500 hospitals, United Healthcare's network is one of the most expansive in the country. This company offers health insurance for self-employed people and their families through various products, including short-term health insurance, supplemental insurance, dental and vision coverage.

United Healthcare is available in all 50 states and offers a wide range of insurance products. Qualified individuals can access Medicare and Medicaid plans through United and can receive short-term and supplemental coverage.

This company isn't the cheapest health insurance for a self-employed individual. Average premium costs for a healthy 30-year-old are around $400, with family plans ranging upwards of $1,200. However, those plans come with access to United’s broad network and extra benefits, including wellness discounts and low-cost prescriptions. Copays for primary care visits start at $0.

User reviews for United Healthcare are generally positive, as evidenced by@ its A+ rating from the BBB. Its smartphone app, which also has high customer ratings, allows you to view your health plan details, create a digital ID card, and manage your prescriptions.

  • Reasonable premiums for individuals
  • Dental plans are available in all 50 states
  • Convenient virtual services
  • Health plans aren't available in all states
  • High rate of complaints for customer service

Why we chose it: Cigna offers affordable health insurance for self-employed individuals in 12 states across the U.S. We chose this company for its convenience and perks including online consultations and home deliveries for prescription medications.

Even though it is not available in all 50 states, Cigna offers low-cost HMO and EPO plans, as well as fine-tuned online services, for self-employed professionals in the following states and district: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennesse, and Washington, D.C.

Within the places listed above, Cigna works with 1.5 million healthcare providers and facilities, plus 67,000 pharmacies. It also offers dental coverage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans in all 50 states.

Cigna’s most appealing features make it convenient for patients to access healthcare. These include access to 24/7 virtual care and prescription delivery. That means Cigna members can chat with their doctor, get a prescription, and have their medicine delivered without ever leaving home, which is a benefit to self-employed individuals who work from home.

On the downside, Cigna does not stand out for its customer service. The insurer doesn't have a BBB rating and has a high number of customer complaints. Potential customers should be aware of this before deciding on an insurer.

  • Low-cost plans without tax credits
  • Easy-to-use mobile app
  • Free virtual services included in most plans
  • Lower-than-usual third-party ratings
  • No dental coverage

Why we chose it: If you're looking for low-cost coverage without an employer, Molina is worth looking into. Its Bronze and Silver plans have some of the most affordable options on the market and still offer comprehensive coverage.

Molina Healthcare challenges the rule that cheaper health insurance isn't necessarily better. Typically, a low-cost plan with limited coverage won't help much when you need to see a doctor. However, Molina Healthcare is a major insurer that offers dependable coverage for a low premium.

While Molina is available in all 50 states, its ACA plans are only available in 14 states. Even without ACA assistance, you can buy a Bronze or Silver plan without overpaying (for a healthy 30-year-old, premiums can cost around $200 to $300, varying by location). Physician copays start at $0.

Most plans come with free virtual visits and low-cost prescriptions. Molina has a modern app that members can use to talk to a nurse or to learn more about their plan. This company has a B rating from AM Best, slightly lower than average for a major insurance provider.

  • Well-rated for Medicare Advantage plans
  • Good for family plans
  • Flexibility to choose your provider
  • Medicaid plans are only available in two states
  • Poor customer service

Why we chose it: Humana offers flexible PPO plans with wide coverage options, worth considering if you want to stick with your primary care provider but don't want higher premiums.

Humana targets individuals who want to stick with a particular provider. One of the toughest parts of switching insurance companies is finding doctors and hospitals you trust in your new network. PPO plans simplify this issue at a higher cost than HMOs or EPOs.

Humana has flexible, relatively low-cost PPO plans available all over the country. With Medicare Advantage, Humana plans start at $0 per month. That's one reason why older Americans choose this insurance company.

Although Humana's PPO plans allow you to choose your physician, you'll save more money if you stay in the company's network. That network is extensive, with thousands of physicians in every state. Physician copays start at $0. With Medicare Advantage, you can pay around $30 per month for a PPO plan.

Humana has an A- rating from AM Best and an A+ from the BBB, higher than average customer satisfaction ratings for a major insurance provider.

  • Virtual services with a $0 copay
  • Convenient app
  • Low-cost plan options
  • Not available in all 50 states
  • High rate of customer complaints

Why we chose it: If you want the peace of mind that comes with 24/7 virtual care, you might want to consider Oscar. This is a modernized healthcare company that lets you talk with a doctor and get a prescription anytime, without leaving home.

Oscar stands out because its virtual urgent care is available 24/7 through the mobile app. It's fast, convenient and free with most Oscar plans. A lot of health insurance companies today offer virtual services but most don’t offer it 24/7.

The downside is that Oscar is currently only available in 22 states. However, all plans in those states are eligible for subsidies through the ACA. Without subsidies, a healthy 30-year-old might pay around $300 to $400 for a Bronze or Silver plan with Oscar (costs vary by location).

The Oscar app allows members to track their deductible, talk to a physician and refill prescriptions anytime. It also has some interactive wellness features, like a step counter. While the app is rated at 4.7/5 stars, the company receives a high rate of complaints. It has an A- rating from the BBB and 1/5 stars from its customer reviews.

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Other health insurance we considered

Freelancers Union

Freelancers Union is not a health insurance company, but it does help freelancers connect and learn more about health insurance for the self-employed. As a Freelancers Union member, you can shop for plans and enroll through their website.

  • Connects freelancers to health insurance plans
  • Free to join
  • Not an actual health insurance company
  • Plan options vary by location

Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is one of the most popular employer-sponsored healthcare companies on the market, but it isn’t the best for individual plans. The cost of health insurance for self-employed people with Kaiser can get pricy. However, Kaiser has a dependable health network and comprehensive coverage if you can afford it.

  • Convenient health centers for all services
  • Free virtual services
  • Individual plans can be expensive
  • Restricted to in-network care

Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is a federal program that provides subsidized healthcare for low-income households. You can shop for a healthcare plan that fits your income and family size on the ACA marketplace. The ACA might be the best place to start if you’re looking for a health insurance plan for self-employed workers with (often significant) tax deductions.

  • Healthcare premiums as low as $0
  • Accessible through multiple major insurers
  • ACA plan options vary by location
  • Income limits on enrollment

Health Insurance for the Self-Employed Guide

Shopping for health insurance shouldn't be complicated. A good plan should have a manageable balance between deductibles, premiums and coverage. After deciding which marketplace you want, look for companies with a simple claims process, group plans or other applicable perks. Remember that health care might seem overpriced, but out-of-pocket medical bills are a leading cause of American consumer bankruptcy, so choose wisely.

To begin, you must know which type of health insurance plan you want.

Types of health insurance plans

With employer-sponsored health insurance, you generally have one or two plans to choose from. These plans are often explained to you by an HR representative. For independent contractors, it's a little trickier. However, it would be best to understand the different types of plans so you know what to pick.

Let's start by breaking down the difference between standard plan types.

HMO (health maintenance organization)

An HMO plan restricts your healthcare options to a predefined network of providers. That means less freedom to choose your doctor or hospital but comparatively lower premiums and deductibles than other types of plans.

Under an HMO, you typically have a primary care provider who will refer you to other specialists within the network. Most insurers allow you to browse their network online to find an in-network doctor you like.

While you may have access to some free services or have a small copay per visit if you visit an in-network healthcare provider, you won’t be covered and would have to pay completely out of pocket if you see a doctor or go to a hospital outside your HMO network.

PPO (preferred provider organization)

A PPO offers a little more flexibility than an HMO when choosing a provider. With this plan, you don't need a referral from your primary care physician to see a specialist and you can also see doctors outside your network, though you will pay a slightly higher cost.

PPO plans generally have higher premiums than HMOs and require a little more paperwork. For example, you may have to submit a claim yourself when you see an out-of-network doctor.

EPO (exclusive provider organization)

With an EPO plan, you don't need a referral to see a specialist, but you are restricted to your provider network. You'll have to pay out of pocket for any out-of-network services (unless it's an emergency).

This type of plan is a good option if you want specialist care without a referral but don't want to pay extra for a PPO.

POS (point of service)

A POS plan brings together the benefits of PPO with those of an HMO. This plan type means you have a primary care physician who coordinates your services, but you can still get some coverage for out-of-network specialists.

With a POS, you will have to pay up front for out-of-network care. Then you can submit a claim to your insurer for reimbursement.

Metal levels

Health insurance companies rank their plans in "metal" levels: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum.

The higher the metal level, the higher the premium. Conversely, higher-tier plans come with lower deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums. If you choose a Gold or Platinum plan, you'll pay more per month but less overall for emergency and preventive services.

If you're looking for an IRS self-employment health insurance deduction for a higher-tier plan, you'll want to talk to an insurance agent about your medical history. Most ACA and state programs offer low-cost Bronze or Silver plans but make exceptions for people with disabilities or pre-existing conditions.

Where to find health insurance for the self-employed

So, what is the best health insurance for self-employed professionals? It varies from person to person. Every health plan has pros and cons. However, the best health insurance for self-employed family members and individuals comes down to several factors including your income, location, and health condition, just to name a few.

Begin by comparing your options. Below we've listed a few places you can look for health plans in your area.

Health insurance marketplaces

We mentioned a few health insurance marketplaces in the list above: Freelancers Union and the ACA marketplace, but there are also regional and state marketplaces. For example, California residents can browse subsidized plans through Covered California.

Remember that a marketplace is not an insurance company; you'll browse plans from different companies. Therefore, it’s important to read the benefits and costs of each plan carefully.

State government programs

Under the Affordable Care Act, each state has its own sponsored health insurance program. Searching for plans specific to your state will help you to narrow down your options and make sure you're getting the correct assistance.

Federal government programs

Aside from the ACA, a few more federal programs can provide discounted health insurance options for self-employed professionals. Those include:

  • Medicare – A federally-sponsored insurance for adults 65 and older. Medicare beneficiaries generally pay a small monthly premium based on their income.
  • Medicaid – A needs-based health insurance not provided by an employer. To qualify, most states require an individual to make 138% of the federal poverty level. Medicaid can be a practical option for someone with pre-existing conditions who needs immediate coverage but can't afford an individual plan.

Military programs

TRICARE is a government-funded healthcare program for military members and their families that provides affordable health insurance to eligible individuals. Depending on your household income and health conditions, you can often access discounted or free healthcare plans.

Membership organizations

One way to find the best health insurance plans for self-employed people is to connect with a union or membership organization, such as the aforementioned Freelancers Union. Other alternatives include:

  • AARP
  • Writers Guild of America
  • Small Business Service Bureau
  • National Association of Female Executives

Some of these organizations offer group plans, which offset the cost of health insurance without an employer.

Health Insurance for the Self-Employed FAQ

Who falls under the self-employed classification?

In insurance terms, self-employed means you earn an income (you're not unemployed), but you don't receive insurance from your employer.

That may include:

  • Small business owners
  • Freelancers and independent contractors
  • Creative professionals (such as artists, writers and musicians)
  • Tradespeople
  • People who work for a company but aren't employees (such as consultants, agents and lawyers)

Is health insurance required for the self-employed?

Legally, no. The law does not require you to buy a health insurance plan.

That said, not having health insurance may subject you to tax penalties, and it presents an enormous financial risk for yourself. Preventive and emergency services can become catastrophically expensive and lead to crushing debt. Purchasing a plan could save you from acute debt and help prevent serious health conditions.

How much does health insurance cost for self-employed workers?

That all depends on your chosen plan and the respective subsidies or discounts.

Generally, you should expect to spend around 10% of your household income on health insurance. Make sure you look into ACA and state subsidies to find a plan that fits your income.

What factors determine health insurance rates?

Your healthcare rates vary based on a number of factors including your age, location, annual income, overall household income, medical history, lifestyle, disabilities and dependents.

An insurance agent will give you the most accurate quote possible. It might seem a little invasive, but you'll get a more accurate quote by providing all the personal medical information you can.

How We Chose the Best Health Insurance for the Self Employed

We selected the seven insurance companies on this list based on their value for self-employed workers. Here are a few factors we considered:

Overall value

How much is health insurance for self-employed individuals? Again, the answer varies based on need.

However, we compared companies with the coverage provided and how much that costs. While some of the companies reviewed on this list are more expensive than others, they also provide more comprehensive coverage, meaning members get what they pay for.

State availability

Unfortunately, not all health insurance plans are available in all 50 states. Health insurance companies like Cigna have limited availability based on location.

That said, most of the companies reviewed on this list offer at least some plans in every state. Check out their websites to see which plans exist in your area.

Member support

Health insurance can feel complicated. That's why helpful resources and customer service are essential factors in a good healthcare plan. Look for a health insurance company that offers online guidance, virtual care or customer service availability to help you understand your plan.

Plan features

The features of your healthcare plan should be straightforward to understand. Your provider should clarify your copay for primary care visits, deductibles and out-of-pocket maximum.

On top of that, the best health insurance companies provide plenty of benefits with each plan, including virtual care and wellness discounts.

Summary of Best Health Insurance for the Self Employed