From the August 2003 issue of Entrepreneur

Q: I need an affordable health-care plan that will cover pre-existing illness for self-employed business owners. Where can I find one?

Name withheld

A: Some states have laws that require insurance companies to cover people in situations like yours. For example, Colorado requires insurance companies to offer coverage to self-employed people who would normally be declined. Washington makes insurance companies sell individual health policies to anyone. And Florida guarantees individual health insurance coverage to "eligible" individuals.

Find a knowledgeable insurance agent who will work and solve problems with you. However, expect guaranteed coverage to cost 10 to 50 percent more than regularly issued insurance. There may also be a waiting period before pre-existing conditions are covered. Here are some other possibilities:

  • Affiliate with an employee leasing company that has a health plan that will cover your conditions. For instance, the SOHO Resource Group is worth checking out.
  • You might find a plan that's more affordable by taking a very high deductible. Some are as high as $7,500. Be aware that this increases your out-of-pocket risk if you become ill or injured.
  • If you're desperate and willing to sacrifice time from your business and personal life to be eligible, you may get coverage by joining a group that insures every member without individual screening. For instance, if you enroll as a university student, you can participate in a student health plan. Or, try working enough hours as an employee somewhere else to qualify for that business's health plan.

Paul and Sarah Edwards' latest book is Why Aren't You Your Own Boss? Send them your start-up questions at www.workingfromhome.com or in care of Entrepreneur.