Worried about the cost of insurance? New Yorkers have a more affordable option.

Nov 05, 2020

This year, the cost of getting insured may be weighing on you more than usual. If you’ve skipped getting insured in the past because it’s just too expensive, or if you’ve experienced a drop in income that has you worried about how you’ll continue to make your premium payments, you may qualify for a new kind of plan in New York.

Essential plans are a great option for those freelancers who fall into the income gap between qualifying for Medicaid and being able to afford private insurance. They’re available to individuals with incomes between $17,000-$25,520, and they cover all of your basic health needs, from primary care and preventative visits to trips to the emergency room and mental health treatment.

Depending on your income, you could pay as little as $0 per month, with the option to pay a little more to add extras like vision and dental coverage. If you’re able, choosing one of the enhanced plans with vision and dental is the greatest value by far, and it’s what we recommend to ensure your health is totally protected.

There’s no deductible, and out-of-pocket costs are capped at a manageable level, from $200-$2,000 for the year.

Both of our New York insurance partners, EmblemHealth and MetroPlus, offer Essential Plans with the same basic levels of service and coverage. To choose the plan that works best for you, we recommend searching their networks to find doctors and care centers that are most convenient to you. MetroPlus’ Essential Plan operates on the same NYC Health + Hospitals network as their metal-tier plans, while EmblemHealth's uses a more streamlined version of their network, Enhanced Care Prime.

While open enrollment is the time most people are thinking about getting insured, Essential Plans are available all year round, so you can join any time. (But if you’re not insured right now, we recommend you get covered as soon as possible!) Enrollments are also retroactive, so if you enroll before the 15th of the month, that whole month will be covered.

When you buy health insurance through Freelancers Union, we receive a small fee that helps us advocate for freelancers all year long. If you have any questions about whether an Essential Plan is right for you, you can call EmblemHealth or MetroPlus directly, or email us at insurance@freelancersunion.org.