Freelancing in the US - health coverage
Thread poster: Kelly O'Connor

Kelly O'Connor  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:14
Italian to English
Dec 29, 2004

My question has multiple parts. I am planning on moving from Italy to the US for family-reasons. My business is doing great in Italy and I would like to continue to work in the translation business after the move, but I have a husband (also a freelancer) and three kids and fear I won't be able to afford the health insurance for all of us. How do other freelance translators cope? I understand that some countries offer health coverage to their nationals abroad, but for how long? Secondly, how many of you who have made the move have been able to continue business with regular customers 6 or 7 time zones away? Thanks for any input.

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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:14
English to Spanish
+ ...
Health Coverage in U.S. Dec 29, 2004

Think of a private health insurance policy with a very high deductible and a premium you can at least afford. Medical care and health insurance in the U.S. are very expensive and getting more so. If you live in the U.S., you're best bet is to remain healthy.

I'll leave it to you to research insurance on the Net.


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Nazim Aziz Gokdemir  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:14
English to Turkish
+ ...
Two suggestions Dec 29, 2004

Try to move, if your options are wide open, to a state that mandates insurers to offer an open enrollment period for self-employed individuals, with no preexisting condition clause. Maryland is one such state, so if you're looking in the Washington DC area, favor Maryland over Virginia (not sure about DC proper). Somewhat related: Even though all states (I think) have at least one insurer offering coverage to people who can't get affordable coverage anywhere else, some states police this system better than others. It pays to do research.

Second, if neither of you will have insurance through an employer, the reasonable route, at least initially, seems to be signing up for "catastrophic coverage." This, as noted above, comes with a very high deductible (both annual and per incident) so that you pay full price for every doctor visit until you exhaust your annual deductible (something like $3,000-5,000); if you need major surgery, it should be covered at 90 or 100% after that deductible, up to a certain maximum (such as a million dollars). You get the same quality of care (many top hospitals and insurers offer it), but you need to budget for spending several hundred dollars a year on unexpected health care expenses, in addition to the costly premium you pay for this insurance. It's still better than being uninsured and suddenly facing a 50,000 bill after an emergency room visit with complications and an unexpected hospital stay.

Once you're covered by this catastrophic insurance, explore your options, such as coverage through a professional association's group plan. For translators, choices out there aren't attractive. Many of us have coverage through our spouses, with employee-sponsored plans that cover the whole family.

The richest country and all that... One bright spot is that when you're self-employed, your medical insurance premiums are 100% tax-deductible.

Good luck.

Aziz


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Kelly O'Connor  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:14
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
thanks for the information Dec 30, 2004

The situation initially seemed bleak but thanks to your input I was able to make some preliminary searches. Seems that NY state offers some sort of minimum health coverage for large families at a reasonable rate, but the maximum income ceiling is a bit low (although who knows how my business will be doing...). The premium is reasonable (or at least much lower than the premiums you pay with private insurance - somewhere around $1,800 a month for a family of 5!!!) I appreciate your sound advice! Keep it coming !

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Kathi Stock  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:14
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
Try via the ATA Membership Dec 30, 2004

I know that ATA offers their members to have access to affordable health insurance. You may explore this option, too. It definitely requires research.
Your local Chamber of Commerce also may have some advice. Consulting the Chamber of Commerce is free of charge.

How to stay in contact with your customers in Europe? Well....for me....I get up early, that's may way of doing things. Besides, nobody disturbs in the early morning hours
I get much more done than the rest of the day.

Good luck!

Kathi


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ecuatraddesign
United States
Local time: 18:14
Spanish to English
+ ...
i say think it over Jan 7, 2005

I don't think the ATA offers group health insurance. I once heard that US federal law forbids them to do so. I don't know if they are offering it this year though.

If health care is an issue, I would say one of you would have to be employed by a company that offers health insurance to its employees (not all of them do). Also, some companies offer better health insurance than others. All states have some health insurance programs for kids, but the income eligibility guidelines are pretty strict. The only health plan many people have is praying that they don't get sick.

The health care situation in the United States is not very good, to put it mildly. There is excellent care to be had, but the cost is prohibitive. I don't live in the US anymore, but when I did, I was lucky to have health insurance through my employer. My parents, however, did not, and once when my mother got sick and had to be taken to the hospital, we got a bill for like $2000 (she was not admitted), and we had to spend like $175 on a few pills for her.


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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:14
German to English
+ ...
Catastrophic (in more ways than one) Jan 11, 2005

I have private coverage for a family of four - but it's very expensive (although much less than $1800!), so we're investigating other options. We are currently looking at health savings accounts in combination with a catastrophic (i.e. high deductible) policy. The advantage to these as I understand it - maybe someone else can confirm? - is that the money that goes into the account is not taxed, so you are paying for healthcare costs with pre-tax dollars. As I recall, independent contractors can deduct 100% of health insurance premiums from taxes, too.

As for working 7 time zones away from customers - I like it. I do get up very early most days, but all of the calling and e-mailing is generally done by about 10am or so. Then you have the rest of the day to work. I am a morning person anyway, so that doesn't bother me. Some clients like to leverage the time difference on short jobs, i.e. send me work before they head out the door to go home and receive it back when they get to work the next morning.

One disadvantage to this is that you usually can't contact people for questions on overnight jobs or jobs with very tight deadlines because they will have already gone home. You have to be pretty clear about the parameters of jobs ahead of time and work out a way of dealing with this.

Most of my customers are also fine with using e-mail and the phone as our means of communication. Don't know how that works in Italy - is personal contact essential?

All the best to you!


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Yoanna  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:14
English to Polish
+ ...
Timezone issue... Jan 12, 2005

I agree with Daina's posting about time zones; actually it can lead to a pretty good organized day for a mother (I have 2 small kids). My e-mailing with Europe / the East Coast is completed from 6 to 8 AM, when the kids are still asleep; I receive my assignments usually not later than 11 AM and I do them in the evening, e-mailing them to clients in the middle of the (European) night. I have never worked out of a different timezone as a freelancer, but this works for me! I guess sometimes I feel like a loser because I get job notifications and when I get up, they are already closed, but hey - for that, I get the sunny Arizona weather

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Soizic CiFuentes  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:14
Member (2003)
English to French
I am the only one not insured in my family May 4, 2008

ecuatraddesign wrote:

I The only health plan many people have is praying that they don't get sick.
.


This is what I am doing. Two of my kids have insurance through Healthy Family, my husband through his job. Too expensive to pay for me and my oldest through University.

I practiced prevention, yoga, healthy diet and if I get sick, I guess I could go back to France or that would be the end of me!





[Modifié le 2008-05-04 05:53]


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Freelancing in the US - health coverage

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