Health Care for the Self-Employed:
This is a big thing with Entrepreneurs in Canada. While we definitely don’t have the same health insurance challenges that American entrepreneurs do, in Canada you should probably consider some kind of health insurance option (in addition to your provincial health coverage) to save you money in the long term.
But isn’t health care free?! We’re in Canada!
While emergency health services and all drugs given to you in a hospital are free, several health services (depending on which province you live in) are not: prescription drugs, physiotherapy, optical/dental and even ambulance rides are not covered under most plans.
Special Note About Provincial Health Coverage:
I need to mention on important thing about your province’s health coverage (the one that the government provides). When you are employed, your company will pay your monthly health premiums directly to the government for you.
That means when you leave your company and start your own company, the province will expect you to pay provincial premiums.
But! There is a way out of it: all of the provinces have an assistance program for low-income earners. If you’re income is low (and most budding entrepreneurs start out low), you can apply for this program. This will save you something like $60/month, which when you’re first starting out, could be back breaking for you and your business.
Below is the link for BC’s low income assistance program. To find your province, simply google: ‘health care assistance low income’ and the top result will be your province’s health website. I’m not going to post links for every province/territory!
The only problem is that your income from the previous year’s tax return is taken into account. So if you leave your $70,000 year job to start your own company, you will still have to pay health premiums each month. Our advice? Save some of that $70,000 as a war chest for your company’s early days.
Here’s a list of health insurance companies that offer self-employment health insurance:
So what do we use? Kevin is the most insured out of all of us: he gets some health benefits from his time in the Air Force. He also has extended health insurance via Blue Cross; Chad has his insurance through Sun Life, and it helped pay for his braces (he never had any when he was a kid).
Brad and me? We are risking it: we’re on assistance plans for low-income earners and counting on only ever needing emergency services (Heaven forbid). We are taking a risk and wouldn’t recommend this option to anyone. But as entrepreneurs, we are all taking risks that we probably wouldn’t recommend for other people. Only you know what is right for you.