Wednesday, April 20, 2011 3:21:39 PM

I just started doing freelance work and am about to shop for health insurance. What options do I have?

Starting in January 2014, the health care reform law will allow you to shop for insurance in exchanges. Until then, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Are you married? If your spouse is covered by a health insurance plan, consider being added to it.

2. Are you still employed? If you’re going to leave your job or you recently lost your job, look into COBRA. It covers you for 18 months after you leave an employer with a group health plan.

3. How does your state define a small group? If you live in a state that defines a small group as one person (such as Maine, North Carolina and Rhode Island) then insurers are required to guarantee issue either an individual health insurance policy or a small group plan to someone who's self-employed.

4. Do you belong to a labor union? If so, check out with your union about health insurance.

5. Do you live in a state that provides group or individual coverage through the Freelancers Union? The Freelancers Union offers health insurance to eligible members in certain New York counties and in certain eligible industries. Dental, life and disability coverage can be obtained if you live anywhere in the United States.

6. What does your local Chamber of Commerce offer? Your Chamber of Commerce is there to guide you as you start your business. Some chambers offer small businesses group package plans if you have at least two employees. One-person plans also may be available.

7. Do you have a pre-existing medical condition? If you do, then you might find it easier to go through an insurance broker. Buyer beware, however: Do your research first and get references.

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Laura Adams is a personal finance expert and award-winning author who is Senior Insurance Analyst for She represents Bankrate Insurance’s web properties in the media and works as an advocate to make sure consumers protect their financial futures by having the right kinds of insurance.

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