health insurance on your own -- Page 2
Keep in mind that an individual health
plan may be less comprehensive than the group plan you may have had through a
former employer, and may impose more limits on benefits.
on comparing individual health plans, check out this
worksheet from Bankrate.com.
to control costs
If you're looking to land some solid health care coverage
but can't afford a hefty premium, you might want to choose a plan with a higher
Most health plans come with $250 to $300 deductible.
By opting for a plan with a $1,000 or $3,000 or even $5,000 deductible, you can
really knock down the cost of your premium.
get it down sometimes to $100 or $150 a month if you go for a high enough deductible,"
By opting for a higher deductible, you're agreeing
to take on more of the upfront and routine costs of your medical care on your
own in exchange for a much lower premium. The aim of this type of coverage is
to protect you in the case of a catastrophic medical expense.
way to bring down health care costs is to opt for a health plan through an HMO.
If you're healthy, you could easily knock down your costs to less than $200 a
"You don't have to pay very much if you use their
doctors and only go to their facilities," Schoeni says.
out the Blues
Lieberman suggests looking into individual policies available
from your local Blue Cross Blue Shield organization. This company has a long history
of offering individual health plans with good benefits.
looking for bare-bones health coverage may be tempted by super-cheap, short-term
plans. But you'll want to shop carefully. These plans are chock-full of limits
"They may be OK unless they don't pay
anything," Schoeni says. "You have to look at what percentage they pay
if something happens."
Short-term plans won't cover pre-existing medical conditions.
And if you develop any kind of medical condition that needs continual treatment,
you'll have to find a way to pay for it on your own after your short-term coverage
ends in two to six months. As noted earlier, finding individual insurance when
you've got a medical condition that requires treatment is tough, expensive and
Not ready to give up the benefits of
group insurance coverage? Consider getting health care through a professional,
trade or alumni association.
Many associations offer group
health insurance to their members. Be sure to study the plan carefully before
signing up. And you may want to ask about rate increases. Some association health
plans raise rates for everyone whenever a member makes a claim.
beware of scams. Not all association health care plans are on the up and up.
"Some associations are phony associations set up
only to sell insurance," Lieberman says. "Those policies are really
unregulated and you could find yourself with huge rate increases down the road."
shopping for health insurance from an association, it's best to stick with professional
groups you're already familiar with.
"If the Chamber of
Commerce is offering a policy, it's probably on the up and up," Lieberman
says. "Checking with your state insurance department is a good place to start."
links to each state's insurance department.
If you're married,
an obvious way to enjoy the benefits of a group plan from an employer is to sign
up for your spouse's company plan at the next open enrollment period.
Another way to attain individual health care is through
your state's insurance pool. Under federal law, every state must provide this
choice, sometimes called a high-risk pool.
consumers, these last-chance insurance pools aren't all they're cracked up to
be. For one thing, they're expensive. You may have to shell out several hundred
dollars a month for coverage. And there's no guarantee you'll even get in.
always a very, very long waiting list to get into that pool," Schoeni says.
"It's not just a matter of needing it."