Self employment offers many benefits. You can be your own boss, set your own hours, and even control your income to some extent. Unfortunately, it also means walking away from corporate benefits, including health insurance, 401K plans and more. While you can easily save for retirement with an IRA, finding good quality and affordable health insurance for you and your family is much more of a challenge. Explore your options and consider what you can do to keep critical health care protection in place without draining your bank account.

If you are just starting your own business, you may be able to continue health care coverage from your previous employer for up to 18 months using COBRA. This option can be cost effective, depending upon the insurance plan. It can also prevent any lapse of coverage. In any case, this is a short term solution to a long term issue for entrepreneurs and the self employed.

Health insurance can be purchased via an online or in person insurance broker, much like home owner’s insurance or auto insurance. Insurance brokers can assist you in finding a plan that meets your needs for the best price available. Include only services that you will need and use in your coverage, if at all possible. A single man has no need for maternity coverage. Consider joining a trade or small business association for group plan options. Some trade associations offer group health insurance or discounts on individual plans. You might also consider checking with your state. In some states, health insurance plans may be purchased directly through the state for individuals without access to group plans.

Many entrepreneurs opt for catastrophic care coverage. These plans have a higher deductible, but much lower premiums. While this sort of health insurance is not ideal for anyone with regular health care needs, it can be quite adequate for young and healthy individuals. Catastrophic care insurance can be combined with a Health Savings Account can provide an affordable alternative to more comprehensive insurance plans.

If you have pre-existing conditions that preclude purchasing standard health insurance, see if your state offers a guaranteed-issue plan. While treatment for your condition may not be covered, unrelated health issues may be.

See for further tips and information on health insurance for entrepreneurs, freelancers and others without access to group plans.