Looking to ditch your day job? Real estate agent health insurance shouldn’t be complicated, but it is.
Most real estate agents have health insurance through their employer — and, thus, may hesitate to leave their job.
According to the National Association of Realtors, 22 to 33 percent of its members are without health insurance in any given year.
But you don’t have to be. Here are some of the most affordable real estate agent health insurance options, starting with what you should look for.
Things to Look for in a Real Estate Agent Health Insurance Policy
There are a ton of potential insurance policies to consider. Before you get overwhelmed, get a clear picture of what you want from your health coverage.
A few of the specific features to look at:
- Monthly premium. This is what the insurance costs each month — the most straightforward part of the policy.
- Deductible. This is an amount you need to pay out of pocket before your insurer starts kicking in. Sometimes people get high-deductible policies; they’re low-cost but will still cover you if you experience catastrophic injury.
- Copay. This is a fee that you have to pay out of pocket, often in addition to your deductible. For instance, you may have a $10 copay each time you go to your doctor, both before and after you meet your deductible.
- Prescription costs. Most insurance policies offer a flat out-of-pocket cost for covered medications, but they may only cover a percentage of branded medications (or not at all).
- Maximum out-of-pocket limit. Under the Affordable Care Act, there is a maximum amount that a covered individual must pay. If your maximum out-of-pocket is $7,000 for the year, your insurance company will pick up any covered costs that exceed that.
- Participating healthcare providers. Depending on the type of insurance you have, you may only be able to see specific healthcare providers. Talk to your doctor to be sure they accept your new policy.
So, now that you understand more about coverage… how do you get it?
So, what’s the best insurance coverage?
It’s hard to say. It depends on your needs. If you are a healthy person, a low-deductible insurance policy with an HSA (health savings account) is probably the best option. But if need a lot of medications (such as someone with diabetes who needs insulin), your math radically changes.
1. Join a Broker or a Real Estate Team
While many real estate professionals are self-employed, a larger number are employed by real estate agencies. Agencies come in all sizes; this means they have different things to offer the agents who work for them.
If you are considering joining a brokerage, take some time to ask about benefits. A good deal on insurance can be a valuable perk. You can also work with a real estate team and share the burden of expenses.
When your health coverage starts will also depend on your specific employer. Some have waiting periods before you can be added to a company health insurance plan.
eXp agents can get health insurance directly through the eXp Agent Healthcare marketplace — one of the major advantages of becoming an eXp real estate agent. These plans are designed to give real estate professionals the care they need — at a cost they can afford.
2. Get Insured Through the ACA Healthcare Marketplace or a Private Insurance Company
Another option is to buy healthcare coverage through either your state’s health insurance marketplace or the Federal marketplace.
Here, you’ll be able to compare the plans available in your area. Many confuse this with Medicare, but it’s not; you’ll get access to the same quality of plans that you would have otherwise.
Plans are divided into Bronze, Silver, and Gold health insurance plans. Each will have different premiums, copays, and out-of-pocket maximums. Compare a few hypothetical scenarios to see which would work best with your circumstances.
The Marketplace has an open enrollment period at the end of each year. However, you can also sign up for insurance if your life circumstances change:
- Changing locations and starting jobs.
- Losing jobs (including having a spouse lose a job).
- Getting married or having a child.
There are also plans offered outside of the official Healthcare Marketplace. Visit a few potential health insurance providers to see if these plans would work better for your specific circumstances. Be warned, though: these policies are usually expensive.
What’s a qualifying event?
Don’t forget that quitting your job is a qualifying event. You don’t have to get fired. So, if you quit your job to become a real estate agent, that does count!
3. Through Your Spouse’s Job
Adding yourself to your spouse’s insurance will raise the premiums but may still be cheaper than buying a policy.
With many policies, you must wait for an open enrollment period to add someone to a policy. But some exceptions will let you add someone right away, the same qualifying events we outlined above.
Young real estate agents just getting started may have another option available: those who are under 26 can stay on their parent’s insurance policies.
4. The NAR REALTORS® Insurance Place
NAR members can shop for health insurance through NAR’s Realtors Insurance Place. This site is specifically for NAR members looking for health, dental, vision, and life insurance. The site also can connect you with telemedicine and other wellness solutions.
Member eligibility varies depending on state laws, age requirements, and individual eligibility. If you are interested in purchasing insurance through NAR, you can view plan information and obtain quotes by providing your NAR Member ID.
5. State or Federal Insurance Policies
Someone who is just getting started and does not yet have a high income may qualify for government health insurance. Individual states typically administer these. Each state’s offerings will be a little different than others.
Note that you’re now your own business. If you make $50,000 but spend $50,000 setting up your business, your effective income is likely closer to $0 than $50,000. So, you could qualify for a low-income policy.
Massachusetts, for instance, has a program known as MassHealth that covers low and medium-income individuals. In other states, such as Florida, provide options through Medicaid.
Conclusion: It’s Not as Hard as You Think
Certainly, it’s harder than it should be. But it’s not as hard as you might think.
If you can’t get on your spouse’s health insurance (and aren’t working with a broker or a team), you can look up insurance options on Healthcare.Gov.
There is no single health insurance policy that is a perfect fit for everyone. So, run a few scenarios. Are you thinking of having a baby? Do you have prescription medications?
And don’t forget to track your expenses!
Real estate agents can get insurance through their broker, their spouse, or by purchasing a private health insurance policy. Like other business owners and independent contractors, real estate agents frequently need coverage on their own.
Everyone needs health insurance. If you find your policies are too expensive, consider catastrophic coverage. These low-cost policies will cover you if you have an extreme medical expense.
HMOs generally have lower premiums. However, you are limited to providers inside your insurance company’s network. PPOs typically have more expensive premiums but give you more flexibility in choosing healthcare providers.
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