Raise your hand if you are a hairstylist and you are either uninsured currently or have been uninsured at some point in your career. Hundreds of thousands of hands just flew into the air. It is a problem that plagues the United States in general, but our industry seems to be impacted more severely than most.
Many of us share the same reasons why we love our profession; the freedoms, flexibility, income potential and ability to be paid as creative artists. The thought of being trapped in a cubicle or typing away at some desk all day working for "the man" sounds like torture. All of that freedom and flexibility comes with a major price to pay and that price includes retirement savings, social security benefits, paid maternity leave and often medical insurance.
I created Flourish Salon Business Development because I truly believe that hairstylists can, and should, enjoy all of the benefits that are seen as standard in more "mainstream" professions. My goal is to uplift our industry in a way that allows us to be seen as the professionals we are and to help more hairstylist to successfully retire and live the healthy lives they deserve.
As many of you have heard by now, Phillip Ring who is an absolutely incredible educator and just all around amazing guy with incredible energy was recently diagnosed with Cancer at 28 years old. He, like so many other hairstylists, is uninsured and has to come up with the funds for his treatment before he can get the help he needs. I have been so inspired seeing the power of social media at work and the amazing outpouring of love given to Phil during this difficult time. At the time of this post, his Go Fund me page has raised $43,000 in less than 48 hours and that number continues to climb. Our industry rocks! While this is impressive, I'm guessing it still isn't enough and I wish he didn't even have to fundraise and worry about care.
While some of us have spouses who cover our medical insurance, the majority of hairstylists and beauty professionals are either underinsured or uninsured all together, so I wanted to share a few valuable resources to help close the gap.
Affordable Care Act Insurance AKA Obamacare
Most of us by now have heard about "Obamacare" and at least have a rough idea what it's all about. The Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010 as a way to offer lower cost health insurance options to those who need them. The hope was that the program would increase the quality and affordability of health insurance, lower the uninsured rate by expanding public and private insurance coverage, and reduce the costs of healthcare for individuals and the government. Those of us with ANY level of health insurance now enjoy completely co-pay free vaccinations, immunizations, preventative care, medical screenings and birth control.
So how does this whole thing work? You're going to want to start over at https://www.healthcare.gov where you can learn more about the marketplace options available in your state. The marketplace is an online store for health insurance plans. Plans vary state-to-state and offer bronze, silver, gold and platinum levels of coverage. Even at the bronze level, you'll receive all of the preventative care listed above and will at least have some cover in case of a medical emergency.
Plans purchased through the marketplace vary in price based on what plan you select. The most expensive plans are several hundred dollars per month, but depending on your income level, you may end up with an amazing plan totally for free. When you create a profile in the marketplace, you'll be walked through a process that determines what cost discounts you may receive. I know of several stylists who saved hundreds of dollars each month by using the marketplace to purchase insurance, so it's totally worth a look! You may also qualify for free Medicaid insurance as well based on your income level.
Generally, you can only enroll in the program from November 1-January 31 of each year. There are some qualifying events such as having a baby or losing current coverage that would enable you to enroll mid-year, so if you do have a life change, it's worth checking out to see if you qualify.
I'm writing this post in April, so if you aren't insured right now, don't panic! I have other resources for you in the meantime.
Short Term Health Insurance Coverage
Short term, low-cost options are available to those who want insurance outside of the ACA open enrollment period. These policies can only stay active for up to 12-months so they are intended to be used during short gaps while waiting for the ACA open enrollment period.
While these plans don't necessarily offer top of the line coverage, they will cover your major medical needs and take care of your preventative health visits. Click here to access the short-term insurance portal and start to your quote. Once you've entered in your zip code you'll be asked to enter your birthdate and how many people you are looking to cover. On the next screen simply select "I don't have a qualifying event, but still need coverage" and you'll be directed to the short-term insurance options in your state.
Aflac Supplemental Insurance
We all know the Aflac duck, but do you really know what that duck has to offer? Aflac offers supplemental insurance to both employees and individuals that really comes in handy during your time of need. Some of the insurance options are only available if offered by an employer, however some of the best options can be purchased by individuals too! If you are en employee of a salon, you may want to speak to your salon owner about offering some of the awesome policies like additional maternity leave pay, life insurance and hospital coverage which pays your deductibles for you. Awesome!
Individuals and employees can both enjoy Accident, Critical Illness and Cancer insurance. Each of these policies will offer additional coverage if you experience a major medical emergency. The Cancer policy for example provides a payout of up to $600 each week a patient receives Chemotherapy, $300 each week a patient receives Radiation and up to $7,000 for stem cell treatments or bone marrow transplants just to name a few of the benefits. Benefits do vary state-to-state so click here to find out what coverage is available to you.
Salon owners should consider offering health coverage to employees
There are so many reasons why offering health insurance to salon employees can be a win-win. Health insurance is a real perk that commission stylists are looking for. If you want to maintain a happy, healthy commissioned or salaried team of stylists, they will expect health insurance benefits.
Employers can also deduct 100 percent of their employees' health insurance cost as a business expense. If the business is incorporated, the business owner’s own insurance costs are also deductible. Small businesses with fewer than 25 employees may be able to receive a tax credit if they purchase small group health insurance for their employees and meet other criteria.
I want insurance Britt, but I just can't afford it
I get it. Trust me. I've been on a major beans-and-rice type of budget before too and I know that insurance seems like the thing that can go on the back burner. Even if you don't have a penny left over at the end of the month, you will likely qualify for free or very low cost insurance. Emergency healthcare is beyond expensive and thousands of people end up drowning in medical debt facing bankruptcy every year. My hope is that less of us feel like health insurance is unattainable.
Please take a small step in the right direction today. First, click here to support Phil in his fight and donate whatever you can. He is an incredible man who happened to be between coverage in his time of need and I look forward to the day he announces he's Cancer free. Next, focus on yourself and create a plan to take action towards health coverage for yourself today.