One of the troubles with freelancing in the U.S. is the insurance situation. I know a lot of Web writers who rely on their spouse's insurance to cover them, and I have periodically been able to do this. But since mine was laid off earlier this month, that insurance will run out at the end of February. If you're a freelancer who is unsure about the insurance situation, I wrote an article about finding insurance recently that sums up some of the companies that I have used.
That article was written only four days ago but there has already been a change that can affect a freelancer's choice of insurance. A new bill was signed two days ago that allows anyone laid off recently, going all the way back to September of 2008, to have the government pay 65 percent of their COBRA payments for nine months. Our COBRA payment was going to be over $900 a month, so I was about to sign up for a family plan from Blue Cross Blue Shield when the bill was passed. The subsidized coverage sounds great, and I was quite excited to hear that we could actually keep our policy after all. Unfortunately, there are problems.
The first problem is that no one will discuss it with me yet because it doesn't go into effect until March 1st, and no one is dealing with it until it does. Coincidentally, that is the same day that our insurance lapses. So, employers have 60 days after that date to send information out to laid off workers about the program.
So, during that 60 days, are we covered? Do we have to pay the full premiums? Will we be reimbursed if we do? What if we wait until we get the information to sign up and have to go to the doctor before the program is available to us? Will we be covered retroactively? The insurance companies aren't sure. The employers aren't sure. I don't know that even the government is sure. So far there are zero answers about any of it and I'm getting nervous. I don't want to be without insurance for even a day and I sure as heck am not chancing it for the two months that employers have to send out the materials.
If you're a freelancer waiting for COBRA coverage or looking for short-term coverage while you're looking for a job, I recommend Blue Cross Blue Shield's temporary policy. They have short term policies for up to three months that are dirt cheap. I'm going to sign up for a month of that coverage just to make sure I'm covered while the powers that be mill around and decide what they're going to do about the whole COBRA situation.