5 Tips for Buying Your Own Private Health Insurance

5 Tips for Buying Your Own Private Health Insurance

In the United States, health care insurance is necessary to help offset the medical expenses that continues to climb each year.  The seemingly endless rise in the cost of doctor’s visits, medications and medical procedures makes it impossible for even those with a decent income to afford a major accident or illness.  If you are struggling to make ends meet, a relatively minor illness or injury could devastate your finances and make it impossible to stay out of debt.  For this reason it is important for each person to make every effort possible to find and maintain a health insurance coverage.

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Some people are fortunate enough to have group coverage through their employment, but many people (e.g., unemployed and self-employed individuals) do not have the same access and have to use  individual health insurance instead.

The following tips will help you in finding the best private (aka, individual) health insurance coverage at an affordable price.

5 Individual Health Insurance Buying Tips

Compare Policies Carefully

All health insurance polices are not created equally.  While most have the same basic outline, there are variations in coverage and price.  Do not assume that the most expensive policy has the best coverage or vice versa.  It is true that the better the coverage, the higher the premium, however you must closely examine each policy to ensure you are getting the protection for which you are paying.

When you do your comparison shopping, make a grid with critical factors down on the left side, e.g., price, deductible, copay/coninsurance, basic care coverage, urgent care coverage, emergency care coverage, maternity, prescription, and any factor that is critical to you. Across the top, write the plan name and contact information. As you go through each plan, note down the critical information so you can compare everything on one page.

Consider your Individual Needs

This point is worth emphasizing — as mentioned above, we are not all the same and no single plan is the best for everyone. The best plan is not the cheapest plan (e.g., lowest monthly premium), but the plan that will save you the most money for your current and near future needs.

Do you plan on having children in the near future?  Do you have pre-existing conditions?  It is important to pick a plan that meets your individual needs.  Childbirth, ongoing treatment of existing conditions and a host of other issues may require special attention from your insurance provider.  Find out if these situations are covered or if you can purchase additional coverage to ensure your insurance offers the protection you need at the time you need it.

Research the Company

It is not enough to find the best policy if the company backing the policy is not in a position to pay out on claims — or if they

  • have a high tendency to reject your claim
  • have a slow or troublesome claim process, or
  • have a horrible customer service, etc.

You must do your reasearch to see if there are any red flags. It’s very easy to do by doing a few quick searches on the Internet, e.g., “{company} complaint”, “{company} customer service”, “{company} claim”, etc. If there are too many complaints and not enough compliments to balance out the complaints, it is best to cross it off your list.

Group Rates for Individuals

For many self-employed individuals the cost of individual health care insurance is simply too high to fit into a limited budget.  Fortunately in many states, a sole proprietor may qualify for lower group rates as an individual.  Where this is allowed, a single person can be considered as a “group of one” and benefit by having lower rates than other individual health care policies.

It is worth spending a few minutes typing in “{your state} health insurance support” and “{your state} health insurance assistance”, and see what might be available for you.

Some Insurance is Better than No Insurance

Regardless of the research you put into finding affordable individual health insurance, you may find you cannot afford the type of policy that best meets your needs.  If this is the case, remember that some insurance is better than not having any coverage at all.  Consider increasing deductibles or dropping some of the coverage if it helps bring basic coverage within your budget.  Health insurance regardless of where or how you purchase it is costly.  Unfortunately if you become sick or injured and are in need of medical care or hospitalization, the cost of being uninsured becomes much more difficult to manage.

Where to Find Affordable Individual Health Insurance

A friend of mine asked the same question not to long ago. After asking around a bit, the majority of people recommended that he looks at eHealthInsurance first. In addition, you can also check these best places to get insurance price quotes to find more options. Last but not least, ask around amongst your friends and see what they recommend.

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