It is the very end of open enrollment time for most health insurance plans. If you are an owner operator or operate as an independent contractor, you need to have a plan in place before the end of November so you aren't left without coverage. Here are some quick owner operator tips to help you pick the best coverage, if these final days of November have you in a panic!
1. Check Company Rates
If you are leased onto a company you might be able to piggyback off of their coverage and sign up with them. In situations where coverage is not available, trucking companies may have access to discounted rates for owner operators working with their organization, or be able to point you in a helpful direction. It is always worth a conversation!
2. Check with Your State Trucking Association & State Insurance Division
Your state trucking association will likely have recommended insurance carriers, and occasionally even offer group coverage for owner operators. This is a great way to learn more information about the insurance landscape in your state from fellow truck drivers and owner operators, rather than learning that information the hard way.
When you contact the trucking association, they may suggest you contact the state insurance division. When you do, you will get a list of all the approved insurance carriers in your state so you can start ticking down the list to find the best, most affordable coverage for you and your fleet.
3. Check with OOIDA
OOIDA, or the Owner Operator Independent Driver's Association offers several plans that meet the minimum ACA requirements. They also offer additional coverage such as dental, vision, short and long-term disability and accidental death insurance. If you are in the market for insurance, check their rates before you make your final choice.
4. Be Sure You Fully Understand Your Benefits & Legal Requirements
Whether or not the ACA will be repealed is a topic for another blog on another site! For now, it is in place, and that means that if you don't want a fine, you have to follow the rules and have qualifying coverage. Before you sign on the dotted line with your insurance company, be sure that you understand the following:
- Does this meet the ACA minimum requirement?
- Is this a health-care or a health-share program? (health-share programs have many limits, so understand your needs and what they will and will not provide)
- How much is my deductible and what is my maximum individual out of pocket?
- What is my maximum family out of pocket?
- Which hospitals and doctors are in my preferred network?
- What is my coverage for other therapies (chiropractor, physical therapist, psychological services)?
- What is my prescription drug coverage?
5. Get Creative
When you are planning out your insurance needs, think a little outside the box. If you have children at home, does it make more sense to have them on your policy or that of your spouse or significant other? If you have adult children under the age of 26, should you continue to carry them on your insurance, or is it time to have them get their own insurance? If you are young, you may find that the best deal is to have individual coverage and have your spouse get their own coverage through their employer.
You also may find that it is most affordable to go on your spouse's insurance plan rather than going through the insurance marketplace. Whatever you decide, be sure to think outside the box and work out a variety of financial scenarios so that you can make the best overall decision.
We know that healthcare is expensive and health insurance is one of the biggest expenses that owner operators have in their budget. Do your best to understand the benefits and options and make the best decision to grow your business and stay healthy on the road. If you have any questions, we are always happy to help you talk through the various options!
If you are ready for a change, we are looking for great people to add to our team. Trucking is a rewarding career that allows you to see the world from your office window. Click below to start the conversation!