Healthcare costs can be daunting, and despite the Affordable Care Act, healthcare insurance for people who are self-employed or contract employees (e.g., 1099 workers) is not always as affordable as we would like. Is there such thing as esports insurance, gamer insurance, or streamer insurance? Sort of—let’s take a look at a few options for gamers, streamers, and esports competitors.
Healthcare Options for Gamers
Are you a full-time streamer, esports or industry professional struggling with navigating how to get insurance or with affording healthcare?
While there is not yet (to our knowledge), a specific gamer insurance program dedicated to our community, there are several options that self-employed individuals (streamers or professional gamers who do not get health benefits from their organizations, for example) can consider to help with health insurance and medical costs.
Gamer Insurance Options
- Twitch has a partnered health insurance platform called Stride, a company that has experience providing benefits to freelancers and contractors. You can find out more at https://get.stridehealth.com/twitch.
- Shop around for health insurance: As a self-employed individual, you may be able to purchase a health insurance plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace or directly from an insurance company. It’s important to compare different plans to find one that fits your needs and budget.
- Consider a high-deductible health plan (HDHP): If you’re healthy and don’t need a lot of medical care, an HDHP may be a good option. These plans often have lower premiums, but higher deductibles, which means you’ll pay more out-of-pocket for medical expenses before your insurance starts to cover the costs. However, if you open a Health Savings Account (HSA) to go with an HDHP, you can use the HSA to pay for qualifying medical expenses on a tax-free basis.
- Learn more about HDHP’s and HSA’s here.
- Look into purchasing a short-term health insurance policy: These policies provide temporary coverage for a set period of time, usually up to six months. They may be a good option if you’re between jobs or waiting for your employer-sponsored health insurance to start. Keep in mind that short-term health insurance policies generally don’t cover pre-existing conditions and may not provide as comprehensive coverage as a regular health insurance policy.
Professional Association or Group Plan
- Consider joining a professional association or joining a group plan: Some professional associations offer group health insurance plans to their members at discounted rates. Additionally, some small businesses may be able to join together to purchase group health insurance for their employees. Brokers like MFE Insurance and G&M International offer policies for Esports industry specific needs.
Negotiating Healthcare Costs
- Negotiate with healthcare providers: If you’re paying for medical care out-of-pocket, you may be able to negotiate lower prices with healthcare providers. This is especially true if you’re paying for a procedure or service that is not covered by insurance.
Government Programs and HSA/FSA
- Look into Medicaid or other government programs: If you have a low income, you may be eligible for Medicaid, which is a government-funded health insurance program. Some states have expanded their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act, so it’s worth checking to see if you’re eligible.
- Use health savings accounts (HSAs) and flexible spending accounts (FSAs): If you have a high-deductible health plan or a regular health insurance plan with a high deductible, you may be able to contribute to a health savings account (HSA). Contributions to an HSA are tax-deductible, and you can use the funds to pay for qualifying medical expenses on a tax-free basis. If you have a regular health insurance plan, you may be able to contribute to a flexible spending account (FSA) to pay for qualifying medical expenses on a tax-free basis.
Low-cost Healthcare Clinics
- Seek out free or low-cost clinics: If you don’t have health insurance or can’t afford medical care, you may be able to find free or low-cost clinics in your area. These clinics may offer a range of medical services, including primary care, prescription medication, and specialty care. Find a list of clinics in your area here.
With the booming popularity of the gaming industry, especially across esports and streaming, we may begin to see large health insurance companies (e.g., Aetna, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Cigna, etc.) start to create gamer insurance packages that are tailored towards the specific needs of the community.
Have more questions, need more resources, or want to know more details about how some of this stuff works? Contact Esports Healthcare or follow me on Twitter at @Nerdy_Nursey to ask questions and to learn more!