Health Insurance for Medical Transcriptionists
Access to health insurance is a big concern for people considering life as an independent medical transcriptionist. Where will you get it? Can you get it at all? What if you have a preexisting condition and insurance companies won’t issue you an individual policy?
Healthcare reform legislation may make this a nonissue. In the meantime, there are multiple approaches you can take:
If you have insurance coverage through an employer you’re about to leave, you’re probably eligible for COBRA.
Purchase an individual health insurance policy.
Obtain a group health insurance policy through your new business.
Seek coverage through a state health insurance program.
If your current employer has 20 or more employees, and you’ve been participating in the health plan for at least 180 days, you’re most likely eligible for COBRA. It’s a federally mandated program that lets you keep your current health plan for 18 months or longer by paying for it yourself. You can’t be refused for any medical reason.
Your current employer is in charge of setting this up for you. If you plan to go this route, don’t wait long to get the ball rolling with your current employer — it’s a limited-time opportunity.
Individual health insurance
If you’re relatively healthy, an individual policy bought on the open market is another possibility. Plans are available in a variety of price ranges. You’ll have to pass a health screening, and the insurer can decline to offer you a policy.
Small group health insurance via your newly formed business
In many states, if you qualify as a business, insurance companies can’t deny you coverage. If you’ve ever been turned down based on a preexisting condition, this can be huge. The definition of business is not the same in every state. In some states, one legitimate employee (you) will do; in others, you’ll need two or more.
If you’re fortunate enough to be in a state where a one-person business is eligible, your insurance agent may not even be aware of this option or offer it to you. The magic words to use are company of one. Then they’ll know what you’re talking about.
State insurance pools
Many states operate “risk pool” insurance plans that are open to people who can’t get health coverage otherwise. You can find a list of them at the website of the National Association of State Comprehensive Health Insurance Plans (NASCHIP).