Health Insurance Individuals

Health care costs are rising, but health insurance for individuals is a must. In the event of an emergency, health care costs can be prohibitively expensive if you aren’t insured.

Whether you’re recently unemployed, self-employed or you simply want to shop around for a more affordable health insurance plan than the one your employer offers, finding the right health coverage requires a good amount of research and consideration.

When choosing a health insurance plan for yourself, you may want to consider:

  • Your overall health habits. Do you smoke? Do you have a pre-existing condition, like asthma or diabetes? Do you take medications that make prescription drug coverage a must? Are you relatively healthy and do you rarely visit the doctor? These are just a few things that can affect the type of insurance you choose and the amount you pay. For example, a smoker can expect to pay significantly more than a non-smoker. A healthy individual who rarely needs health care might opt for a high-deductible plan that offers lower monthly payments.
  • Your budget. Health insurance for individuals is notoriously expensive, but you should never skimp on health care. Find out how much your co-pay is (the amount you pay out of pocket when you visit the doctor), as well as the amounts of your monthly premiums and deductibles. Even a basic policy that only covers major events is probably better than nothing. Also, there are many different ways you can lower costs for health insurance plans, including increasing deductibles, shopping around for multiple quotes and eliminating coverage you may not need.

From there, you can begin to look at different health insurance plans and their benefits and drawbacks. HMOs, for example, can be an affordable option, but they offer limited choices with regard to doctors you can visit. PPOs, on the other hand, allow you to visit whatever doctor and specialist you like, but are generally more expensive than HMO plans.

You should also look at whether the plan has exclusions (such as excluding coverage for maternity care); if you require prior authorization from the insurer before obtaining tests or filling certain prescriptions; and if the plan includes any special considerations you may have, like medical equipment or devices.

Finding the right insurer is also important when choosing health insurance for individuals. Some insurers may disagree with doctors about whether or not you need a certain treatment and refuse to cover it, resulting in a lengthy appeal process. Make it a point to thoroughly research your insurer. Ask friends, neighbors or former co-workers who have their own health insurance plans if they can recommend an insurer.

Resources

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. (n.d.). Day-to-day: Know your health insurance coverage. http://www.cff.org/UploadedFiles/LivingWithCF/Insurance/Know Your Health Insurance 02-06.pdf.

Howard, B. (n.d). Health insurance. Retrieved July 11, 2010 from http://health.msn.com/fitness/articlepage.aspx?cp-documentid=100244268.