Many people today qualify for an employer-sponsored health insurance plan, and most who qualify choose to obtain their health through their employer's plan. There are millions of others, however, who do not qualify for an employer-sponsored plan. These may be individuals who are self-employed, who are part-time workers, and more. Some people do qualify for an employer-sponsored plan but opt out of the plan for different reasons. Buying an individual health insurance plan is an option for such individuals to pursue. These are policies that an individual will obtain directly from an insurance company in the same fashion most people obtain their life insurance, auto insurance, and other forms of coverage.
Education is Key
Before buying an individual health insurance policy, it is important to understand the different terms that are used in the insurance industry. Without understanding insurance terminology, it is difficult for a person to understand what kind of policy they are buying and to determine which policy is the best choice for them. Consider spending time researching terminology such as co-pay, deductible, co-insurance, in network, and out of network. Understanding the difference between a PPO and HMO can also be beneficial in determining which plan is best suited to meet an individual's needs.
Understanding Individual Needs
After taking time to learn more about the insurance industry terminology that is most commonly used, it is important for an individual to learn more about their own needs. Consider how often doctors offices and emergency rooms are visited on average. Some people use insurance only for medical emergencies and may go a year or two without entering a doctor's office. Others, and particularly those with kids or on-going medical conditions, may visit the doctor's office every few weeks to a month. For those who visit a doctor's office frequently, opting for a higher premium with a low co-pay may prove to be more affordable over time. Some people may have plans to have a child in the near future and many need to find coverage that includes maternity care. Individual plans with maternity coverage are rare and expensive, and often are only beneficial for those who are actively trying to conceive. Other people may be on numerous medications and will want to consider if a certain plan will offer prescription drug coverage, and if their own medications are covered by the plan. Understanding an individual's needs is key to finding the most affordable plan for how the insurance will be used.
Exploring the Options
Once an individual has taken time to determine the type of insurance they want to buy, they can then start shopping around. There are several plan comparison sites that provide insurance shoppers with the ability to quickly analyze deductibles, premiums, and co-pays. However, it is important to review a policy in more detail before buying it. Reading the fine print is important to determine which services and treatments are covered in the plan. Further, individuals who do not want to change doctors should take time to research if their medical practitioners are included in the plan.
There are several steps to follow in order to find a great individual health insurance plan. While time and effort is necessary to find a plan that fits an individual's needs and budget, the benefits that come from being insured cannot be outweighed.