Understanding Insurance – Part Two

Most freelancers I know view health insurance as a luxury, rather than a necessity. You would  insure your gear, why not your body? I understand that money doesn’t grow on trees, and insurance is something your don’t need until you do. But think about the situations when you’d need health insurance, and consider whether you can afford not to have coverage.

Parental Coverage – depending on your age/student status, you may be covered by one of your parents’ health plans from their employer. A common cap on family plans is age 21 or graduation from post-secondary education, whichever comes later. (ie if you’re still a student at 23, you may still be covered).

Student Coverage – most schools automatically include a health plan as part of your student fees. If you are covered by a parental plan, you can usually choose to opt-out of the student plan and get some of your money back. If you’re not covered by a parental plan, look into what your student plan includes. Most will include at least partial coverage for prescription drugs, dental, and optical, and some include additional benefits like massage therapy or chiropractic care.

Partner’s Joint Coverage – Some plans include coverage for a spouse or partner. Check the details of your specific plan, but if you and your partner live together, you may qualify. Some plans require you to prove the length of time you have lived together, others seem much more lax about the details. Even if you are not fully covered under your partner’s plan, you may be able to purchase spousal coverage for a discounted rate.

Individual Coverage – if you don’t fit into any of the above categories, then this is for you. Quite simply, you buy coverage for the things you need. Companies like Green Shield offer individuals a set of coverage options to choose from, and you select the package that best fits your needs. Some plans, for example, do not include prescription drugs, but offer a lot of dental coverage. Other plans include medical items (such as foot orthotics), but not optical exams. Basically it’s like looking at a menu and choosing the best meal plan. Rates depend of the type and amount of coverage you select, how many people are being covered (an individual, couple, or family), and which province you live in.

Standard coverage for an individual living in Ontario costs about $50 per month. That will pay for 70% of your prescription drugs, 70% of your dental costs, subsidize speech therapy, massage therapy, chiropractic care, and naturopathy. It will pay for your ambulance transport, emergency dental care, and hearing aids.

A man I used to work with lost his daughter to a medical emergency. She died in the ambulance on her way to the hospital. He said the thing he remembered most about that whole experience was when they gave him the news of his daughter’s death, they also handed him an invoice for the ambulance ride. I always assumed that because we live in Canada everything is free, more or less. But that isn’t the case. And if you’ve been in an accident, or have a medical emergency, the last thing you want is to be worrying about money. By dedicating a little money each month to your insurance, you can protect yourself in an emergency situation.

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