One the most difficult things about being self-employed is having to find and pay for your own insurance. When you have a job with a benefits package that includes health insurance it’s easy to become “spoiled”. Rates are often far better and coverage usually far more comprehensive than for individual and family insurance.
When your employer offers health insurance, pretty much the only decision you need to make is whether or not to accept it. When you’re on your own, having to research all the options and decide what is most appropriate for you you may be overwhelmed by the choices and costs.
In your employer’s plan everyone in the company paid the same rates. Now you’re faced with more decisions than Baskin Robbins has flavors, but unlike buying ice cream, your decision has consequences.
The first thing you’ll discover is that every state has a different set of rules and laws that govern and regulate the insurance industry for that state. Prices vary, not only from state to state, but zip code to zip code. There are dozens of insurance carriers to choose from, including names familiar to you from television, which may or may not offer you the best deal.
You’re going to have to do some investigating and you’re going to be shocked, especially coming from group health policies, where pretty much everything is covered, from doctor visits to prescriptions, and everyone is acccepted by the very nature of group coverage.
You are going to find that individual and family and insurance is quite selective. Pre-existing conditions will either be excluded, not covered at all or be a cause for your rejection altogether. It is important before you apply for any insurance policy to know what the restrictions are. One of the worst things that could happen is for you to be rejected because of a medical condition. Rejection by one carrier will raise a red flag and possibly cause you to be either rejected, out of hand, or forced to pay a higher premium with other carriers.
You should also make certain when buying a policy that you’re guaranteed not to raise your premium for at least 12 months. Insurance companies often offer a teaser rate to get you to sign up with them and then raise your rates soon after. All of the companies going to consistently raise your rates, just make sure you’re rates are locked in for a least a year.
Make sure you’re with a reputable firm. Some of the offerings sound great but unless you’re an expert you may not see the loopholes which render the policy useless to your needs. Your best bet is to consult with a health insurance professional, a broker, an independent agent, one who represents a multiple insurance companies. Such a person knows the business, can answer questions and lead you in the right direction.
Another option is to consult an online quoting engine, available through the Web Sites of many independent agents. Here you can compare a variety of health insurance policies and companies, and note the variety of prices and options of coverage.
Quoting engines are nice, but do not forget that they only display the “preferred” rates, which may not necessarily reflect your actual rate. They also lack the ability to advise you about loopholes, and potential pitfalls. For that you need a trained and licensed health insurance agent.
Jeff Wild is an independent health insurance agent and a representative of some of the highest rated insurers in the United States. His Web Site, Simple Health Coverage was created to educate, inform and connect consumers with the best carriers, policies agents and choices in their geographic area.
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