Buying health insurance can be frustrating. Many people have to look for individual or private health insurance after leaving a job or when starting their own business. Let’s face it; the cost of not having health insurance is riskier than the monthly premium of a good health insurance policy.
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CBS News reported in 2010 that there were over 59 million Americans without health insurance. This is a huge increase, four million, from 2009, which is in direct correlation with the downtrodden economy.
Where do you start when looking for the best individual health insurance company?
There are many great health insurance companies that offer policies and plans to individuals. However, if you are used to group health insurance rates through an employer, the monthly premium of an individual plan might be an unexpected reality check.
What most people find when looking for individual health insurance compared to group health insurance are higher premiums, extreme deductibles, increased amounts in copayments and fewer benefits.
According to SmartMoney, you should give yourself 60 days to shop around and apply for a new health insurance policy. The reasoning behind this is to give yourself time to explore all the options and to find what works best for your individual and family needs.
Private health insurance plans don’t just give a one-rate health insurance policy to everyone who applies. They consider several elements when drawing up an individual plan.
Some things taken into consideration are:
- Your age
- Your gender
- Your health history
- Your weight
- Whether you smoke
Some applicants will be denied insurance altogether if they have any history of heart disease or cancer or even a history of depression. Some preexisting conditions, such as a pregnancy, might not get you a denial for insurance, but will certainly give you a raise in monthly premium pricing.
Coverage can range from state to state. Some states will offer coverage to any person who applies regardless of health history. The monthly premiums in these states tend to be higher, even for those who are the cheapest to cover.
If you don’t want to wait for coverage and want something immediately, you can sign up for COBRA and get coverage within a couple of days. COBRA is short-term health insurance that is specifically designed for those in between coverage. The monthly premiums of COBRA can be expensive, but the peace of mind you get from having insurance could be well worth it.
If you are looking at a private health insurance plan and you see extra coverage on things you don’t need, see if the insurance underwriter will take those extras out. Sometime this can be done and will reduce your monthly premium.
If you’re a member of a group, club or organization you can sometimes get health insurance through them. This group health insurance tends to be less expensive and has better coverage than the private health insurance options.
What are the top private health insurance companies in the U.S.?
The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) compiled a list of the best private health insurance companies in the U.S. It’s important to also research those private health insurance companies who are top rated in the state you are applying in.
The following are the top rated private health insurance companies in the U.S. in no particular order:
- Harvard Pilgrim Health Care
- Geisinger Health Plan
- Grand Valley Health Plan
- Tufts Associated Health Maintenance Organization
- Health New England
- Cigna HealthCare of New Hampshire
- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts
- Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield
- Group Health Coop. of South Central Wisconsin
Is there federally funded health insurance for those who can’t afford private insurance?
There are other options for health insurance plans out there besides private insurance. It’s important to see if you qualify for federally funded health insurance. If you were laid off from your job and can’t afford short-term health insurance, this may be an option.
You can apply for Medicare and go over the basics when looking for options. Medicare also has options to work with other insurance companies.
It’s important to research all your options when looking for affordable health insurance. Looking into the individual health insurance can be stressful and time consuming, but taking the time to research can save you hundreds.
To look at health insurance quotes that are affordable, simply enter your zip code now!