10 Individual Health Insurance Tips

The Individual Health Insurance market just got more complicated, thanks to new health reform law. However, with health reform came a lot of major improvements as well.

Here are 10 things that you should know to help you save money on your health insurance plan and hopefully take a little bit of the headache out of your self-employed health insurance search:

Work with a knowledgeable health insurance agent- A good agent can make a world of difference when buying an individual health plan. They’ll help you navigate an exchange site, determine whether you qualify for any discounts, help you choose from among various plan options, and even enroll you themselves. They’ll be able to answer any questions that come up, explain any terms you don’t understand, and best of all- it doesn’t cost you anything at all to work with an agent. To connect with a local agent in your area, click here.

Consider an individual health plan – Even if you have a group insurance plan available to you (like through a spouse’s or parent’s workplace), consider an individual health plan. Individual health insurance is usually much less costly than a similar group health insurance plan; even if you are comparing plans from the same insurance company. Insurance experts say the reason for this is mainly because of competition. Insurance carriers must compete for individual business much more than for group health plans. For a free individual health insurance quote, click here.

Evaluate your health status – Knowing the difference in cost between individual health and group health brings us to the importance of knowing your health status. If you and your family are all the picture of perfect health then it may be safe for you to apply for an individual health insurance plan with a high deductible and cheaper monthly premium. If it’s much more likely that you’ll be using your health insurance on a regular basis, it may be frugal to go with a higher premium and a lower deductible. An experienced health insurance agent can help you figure out your family’s individual needs. Click here to be connected to an agent.

Know how COBRA works – COBRA health insurance is group continuation coverage that will be offered to anyone that leaves a company with 20 or more employees for any reason other than gross negligence. (Note that this is a simplified definition of how COBRA health insurance works and there are many other aspects of COBRA to consider, so be sure to do your research before accepting a COBRA offer). These plans can be quite expensive, as they are still group continuation plans, and your previous employer will no longer be kicking in any of the premium costs.

Don’t fall for a marketing pitch – Some insurance companies and associations will try and make you believe that their plans hold specials benefits for you and are designed just for the self-employed. They will tell you that you can get special tax benefits by choosing their plans when in fact that is not the case. Remember, insurance rates are set by the insurance company and regulated by your State’s Department of Insurance so you can’t get a better “deal” on insurance based on where you purchase it from.

Make sure your doctors- and prescriptions- are available before buying – Some plans, mainly HMO and PPOs, will require you to see providers “in network”, or in other words, providers who contract with them. Some prescriptions covered by one insurance plan will not be covered by another. Talk to an experienced agent about your providers and prescriptions before committing to a plan. Connect with a local agent in your area by clicking here.

Find out if you qualify for an advanced tax credit or cost sharing reduction - When shopping for health insurance, make sure you explore all your options for saving. You may qualify for a discount on your monthly premium, or you may have lower out-of-pocket costs like copayments and deductibles. To find out if you qualify for any subsidies, click here.

If you don’t qualify for a subsidy, you don’t have to buy on exchange– Insurance companies that participate in exchanges usually have many other options available “off exchange”. Some insurance carriers don’t even participate in the state or federal health exchanges, so there may be many other options available to you outside of the marketplace. A licensed health insurance agent can get you plans both on and off exchange. To connect with a licensed agent in your area, click here.

Compare quotes – compare quotes from at least three different health insurance companies side by side to get the best rate. Stay away from indemnity plans and discount cards unless you are forced to go that route because you cannot obtain a full major medical health insurance plan. Click here to receive a free quote from up to three different health insurance carriers.

Remember everyone is now required to have health insurance- Skipping coverage won't be free. In 2014, the tax penalty for not having health insurance was $95 per adult or 1 percent of taxable family income, whichever was greater. That figure will continue to rise annually in the coming years.

Finding the right health insurance plan for you can be easy if you know what to look for, and you have good trustworthy assistance from a professional health insurance agent. Work closely with your agent and tell him your needs and requirements for a health insurance policy. Let him do the work in finding the best suitable plan for your situation. Click here to be connected to a local licensed agent who can help you make the best health insurance decision.