It’s tax season again and like many of the other 2.5+ million real estate professionals in the U.S., it’s time to research the best insurance options. But what are the best options for you, keeping in mind your needs as a real estate professional and your budget?
First, let’s discuss what the law states as minimum required coverage. With the passage of Obamacare (aka The Affordable Care Act), everyone is now required to obtain a health insurance policy or face a tax penalty.
Regardless of where you decide to purchase your policy, the plan must meet these minimum requirements covering ten essential health care services:
- Outpatient Services
- Emergency Services
- Prescription Drugs
- Maternity / Newborn Care
- Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services
- Rehabilitation Services
- Lab Services
- Preventative / Wellness Programs and Chronic Disease Management
- Pediatric Services
No what the policy you purchase, it must have coverage for these essential service areas or the plan may not be qualified which could ultimately mean you end up paying a tax penalty at the end of the year.
Easy enough, right? Well, that’s where the simplicity ends. Obamacare itself is a massive bill and complicated in nature, with each state retaining the rights to implement their own guidelines and limits for various components of your coverage.
That said, the very first item of business is to figure out if you qualify for a subsidy where the local / federal govt will pay for some or all of your healthcare premium. For example, California offers subsidized healthcare plans through CoveredCA if your income is within a certain range from the FPL (Federal Poverty Line).
If you’re like me and you’re right square in the middle-class income bracket, unfortunately, you are out of luck. Chances are you, you make too much money to qualify for a subsidy and not enough to not flinch when your health care bill hits your mailbox each month.
The Best Options for Finding Real Estate-friendly Health Insurance Plan
There are several places I would recommend you start your hunt for the right health insurance plan.
National Association of Realtors Insurance Marketplace
Most brokers in the US require their agents to be a member of a local Realtor® board. If you’re a member of the NAR, you can use your NAR ID to access the Realtors Insurance Marketplace which the NAR has launched to help agents find and shop for healthcare coverage.
Benefits of using the Realtor’s Insurance Marketplace:
- Affordable plans starting at around $70 / month.
- No contract
- Guaranteed acceptance (everyone offers this – it’s mandated!)
- You can choose any provider you wish
- There is a PPO network option available for those in qualifying states
eHealth Insurance Marketplace (Preferred Option)
If you’re looking for a one-stop solution for evaluating health care providers, comparing costs and coverage, with the option of buying the plan online, I strongly recommend eHealth Insurance Marketplace.
After doing my research, I believe that eHealth Insurance is the best website for comparing insurance plans and prices. I found the customer service to be exceptional and the folks I spoke with were very knowledgeable about all of the laws in my state, as well as advising me on finding the lowest-priced coverage that still meet our needs.
It’s like the Kayak.com for Health Insurance!
Both my wife and I used eHealth Insurance to find our plan and sign up for health insurance here in Southern California. For reference, we both get decent coverage for about ~$450/month (~225 per person) and this covers all preventative care, $15 copays for meds, and major medical.
Here are a few benefits to using eHealth for finding the best insurance:
- They offer more plans than available on the Health Exchanges
- The website is really easy-to-use. You should be able to get pricing info within a minute or two.
- Submitting your application takes under ten minutes
- They Offer Health, Vision, Dental, Short-term, Small Business, Travel, Accident, Life Insurance and More
It doesn’t cost you anything to go to this website and price compare policies. Give it a shot and let me know what you think.
So there you have it – there’s a couple of solid options for finding the best insurance suited for you self-employed agents on the grind! It’s important to get covered so that you don’t have to pay the Obamacare tax penalty. Most plans are going to offer the new minimum mandated requirements. Check with your state’s health exchange to figure out if you qualify for a subsidy. From there, head on over to eHealth to compare plans and find the best rate for the coverage you need.