Health coverage if you're self-employed

If you're self-employed, you can use the individual Health Insurance Marketplace to enroll in flexible, high-quality health coverage that works well for people who run their own businesses.

You can enroll through the Marketplace if you’re a freelancer, consultant, independent contractor, or other self-employed worker who doesn’t have any employees.

You’re considered self-employed if you have a business that takes in income but doesn’t have any employees. If your business has even one employee (other than yourself, a spouse, family member, or owner), you may be able to use the SHOP Marketplace for small businesses to offer coverage to yourself and your employees. See "How do I know if I’m self-employed or a small employer?" to learn more.

Coverage options for the self-employed

In the Marketplace you can choose from several categories of coverage, from plans with low premiums that mainly protect you in worst-case scenarios to plans where you’ll pay more each month but less out-of-pocket when you get health care services.

Self-employment income and Marketplace savings

When you fill out a Health Insurance Marketplace application, you’ll have to estimate your net self-employment income. Marketplace savings are based on your estimated net income for the year you’re getting coverage, not last year’s income.

When you’re self-employed, it can be hard to estimate your income for the coming months or year. Learn how to estimate your income if you’re self-employed.

If you don’t have coverage, you’ll pay a penalty

Most Americans must have minimum essential coverage or pay a penalty. This is true no matter what your job status is.

More answers

How do I know if I’m self-employed or a small employer?

If you run a business that produces income and has no employees, you’re considered self-employed. You can buy health coverage through the individual Health Insurance Marketplace.

You’re not considered an employer only because you hire independent contractors to do some work.
"Employees" are generally workers whose income you report on a W-2 form at the end of the year.
Get details about how to know if people who work for you are considered employees.
What if I leave my job, lose my job-based coverage, and become self-employed?

If you lose job-based coverage for any reason, you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. This means you can enroll in a health plan even if it’s outside the annual Open Enrollment period. During the Open Enrollment Period, if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period you may be able to have your coverage start sooner than it otherwise would. Learn more about how to apply with a Special Enrollment Period.

What if I’m self-employed and then get a job that offers health coverage?

You can cancel your Marketplace plan any time and enroll in your employer’s insurance.

Once you have an offer of job-based coverage, in most cases you’ll no longer qualify for a premium tax credit and other savings on a Marketplace plan. This is true whether you enroll in the job-based coverage or not.
In rare cases, your employer’s coverage won’t be considered affordable to you or won’t meet minimum standards. If this is true, you may qualify for premium tax credits and other savings on a Marketplace plan based on your income. Learn about your options if you have an offer of job-based coverage.
What if I’m self-employed and my spouse has coverage through a job?

If your spouse’s plan offers coverage to spouses and dependents, in most cases you won’t qualify for premium tax credits and other savings on a Marketplace plan.

If your spouse’s job-based insurance doesn’t cover spouses and dependents, then you can buy a Marketplace plan for you and your dependents. Depending on your household income, you may qualify for a premium tax credit and other savings.
In most cases, a married couple has to file a joint federal tax return to be eligible for premium tax credits and other savings on Marketplace plans. Learn about the limited exceptions to the joint-filing rule.
What if I have COBRA coverage?

If you currently have COBRA continuation coverage, your options are different during the annual health insurance Open Enrollment period and outside Open Enrollment. Learn about COBRA and the Marketplace.