Health insurance is one of those things that most independent contractors downplay. Even those who deem it important don’t have their own policies because getting health insurance as a self-employed individual is very difficult; and even where it’s possible, it’s usually expensive.

If you are an independent contractor, you need to know that health insurance is important for you just as it is for employed professionals. Whether you just don’t deem it necessary or you have lost hope of getting it after several attempts, you have to realize that you need health insurance.

Even if you are usually in good health, you will need to use the health care system at some point in your life. You never know when an accident may happen or you will get sick. Such unexpected instances can eat too deep into your finances if you are not covered by a health insurance plan.

In the united states, the average cost of an adult’s trip to the emergency room is about $700, excluding the costs of tests and hospitalization, which may increase the bill to over $1,000. Now, that sounds scary. But the good news is that you can protect yourself from such financially-crippling medical bills by simply purchasing a health insurance plan. Here are 10 benefits you stand to gain from health insurance as an independent contractor:

10 Benefits of Health Insurance for Independent Contractors

1. Free or subsidized outpatient care costs

Each time you have minor health complaints such as headache and cough, your point of call is the outpatient clinic. This is where you will be asked questions regarding your presenting complaints and administered drugs based on the doctor’s diagnosis. Outpatient visits usually come at a cost. You will be charged for consultation, drugs, and any diagnostic tests you run. But if you are covered by a health insurance plan, you will pay next to nothing for these.

2. Reduced costs of emergency room services

If you ever have any cause to land in the emergency room at the hospital, such as when you suddenly lose consciousness, you will be charged for that. And the cost excludes that of hospitalization or consultation. If you are rushed to a hospital within the network of your health insurance provider, then you will pay much less for the emergency service.

3. Low hospitalization costs

Hospitalization costs are one reason that healthcare is the commonest cause of bankruptcy in the U.S. Each day spent in the hospital can cost anywhere between $2,000 and $20,000. Spend multiple days in the hospital and your total income for months will go into payment of medical bills. However, if you are covered by a health insurance plan, you’d be surprised at the huge reduction you can get to enjoy on medical bills.

4. Free preventive and wellness visits

Whether you are battling a chronic disease and have to visit the doctor frequently for monitoring or you just go for medical checkup, most health insurance plans will cover the full cost of such hospital visits. That is, you don’t have to pay for preventive and wellness visits if you are health-insured. Woman visits, domestic violence screening, and contraception all fall under this category.

5. Free maternity and newborn care

If you are a young woman, chances are that you will need maternity care each time you get pregnant. With a health insurance plan, you can get this at no cost. Most people who don’t have health insurance plans have to churn out huge amounts of cash for maternity and newborn care.

6. Reduced cost of mental and behavioral health treatment

If you are battling with the challenge of drug, alcohol, or other substance abuse and addiction, you will ordinarily have to pay heavily on each visit to the doctor who will be monitoring and treating you. But with health insurance to your rescue, your treatment bills will be much reduced. Though co-pay will be required, this is usually much less than what obtains with non-insured individuals.

7. Reduced costs of prescription drugs

Most health insurance plans offer a reduction in the cost of prescription drugs. So, if you are insured and have any reason to purchase prescription drugs, you will be paying just a little fraction of the original cost of the drugs. Some health insurance plans offer a 90% reduction in drug costs, which means you only have to pay 10% of your total drug costs.

8. Zero cost on medical devices

If you are having a disability or you ever get to need special equipment or devices to help you recover from temporary injuries, most health insurance plans will have you fully covered. So, you get to pay nothing no matter how expensive the devices are. Although some health insurance providers will not cover the whole cost, you will still get to enjoy a huge subsidy.

9. Free laboratory tests

If you are covered by a health insurance plan, you will have most preventive laboratory test run for you for free. And if you will ever have to pay, it won’t be much. Only preventive tests come at no cost, not tests ordered after you have been diagnosed with a disease condition.

10. Your relatives will be covered, too.

As an independent contractor with a health insurance plan, you can extend the benefits of your plan to your immediate relatives, such as your spouse and children. So, even if you think you are “immune” from health problems, you never know when your family will come up with a health issue.

Ajaero Tony Martins