Health insurance for the self-employed: what you need to know

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There are any number of advantages to working for yourself in a self-employed capacity. Everything from being in control of your own destiny (and your own boss), the realistic possibility of being able to work more flexible hours (and setting your own daily/weekly schedule) and the potential to earn more money – through to avoiding office politics (and the predictable post-X Factor water cooler moments), purchasing new equipment as and when required (as opposed to officially putting in a formal request with your employer and then being told department budget cuts means your rapidly fading laptop won’t be replaced anytime soon) and not having to wear an ill-fitting, soul-destroying uniform for the rest of your days.

One of the most disadvantageous flip-sides of answering to yourself and yourself alone (and obviously your clients) is that you have no safety net to fall back on if your health suddenly starts to deteriorate unexpectedly.

Or if you pick up a freak injury which subsequently turns into something a lot more serious and employment-threatening (in as much as incapacitates you and obstructs you doing what you normally do within a work context).

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That’s because the buck stops with you when you choose to venture down the self-employed path, and nine times out of ten due to the very nature of the beast you can’t delegate the tasks which you can now no longer do for an indefinite period of time. Essentially there’s nobody to cover you/step into your shoes whilst you concentrate on making a full recovery.

Without labouring the point, when you work for yourself all the acknowledged benefits and company perks which many employers provide come to an abrupt end. As well as free parking, state-of-the-art gym membership and an expenses card, this can also extend to a private health insurance policy.

Health insurance for the self-employed means quicker appointments and consultancies

With nobody to hand over the business to if and when you succumb to serious injury or diagnosed with a health-impinging (and therefore job-compromising) medical condition, the last thing you need is to hang around in a GP surgery or hospital outpatient waiting rooms hoping that a consultant will see you quickly. Which is why it makes sense to arrange one of the numerous, dedicated self-employed health insurance policies currently on the market.

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Ostensibly a self-employed health insurance plan enables those who run their own businesses to choose when and where they receive medical attention and on-going care. With a view to return to work as soon as is physically (and emotionally) possible.

Despite an increasing number of health insurance providers here in the UK welcoming resolutely self-employed folk on individual private health insurance plans, these tend to be aimed more towards employees rather than small business owners or freelancers.

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Which is often a problem, as by and large the self-employed need to be granted the freedom to select both when and where they receive healthcare provisions with the objective being to get back to their workplace and resume their everyday role in the shortest possible space of time.

There are certain health insurers who will allow those employees departing a company to branch out on their own the relatively seamless service of transferring their existing cover, albeit on a new-found individual basis, yet they rarely offer much flexibility on levels of cover and premiums going forward. Which is why sourcing a brand new, stand-alone health insurance policy geared up towards the sole trader is always the best option. And one which puts focusing its attentions on speed and convenience at the heart of its policy mantra.

Another benefit commonly associated with health insurance products for the self-employed is that for those with a high taxable income the premiums can be reduced quite dramatically, simply by subtracting the cost for your taxable income. And the incentive doesn’t stop there either, as there’s the possibility to extend the cover to the policyholder’s family too, which wouldn’t adversely affect the tax deductible aspect either for that matter.

We can’t stress enough how important time is for those running their own business concerns, and as the old adage goes, time really is money in this employment situation. Access to nearby specialists, hospitals and treatments means that you can get back on your feet in the shortest possible turnaround, with the emphasis placed on minimising the impact an accident or illness will have on your main income stream. What’s more, such policies open doors to cutting edge treatments and medical technologies, culminating in the perfect package for those who see a speedy recovery as akin to a matter of life and death; at least in a financial sense.

As well as dedicated health insurance, it also pays to learn more about other options – read our guide to income protection insurance for the self-employed.