Advice on Buying Individual Health Insurance at a Group Rate

By: Brockton Barton

When you're buying health insurance as part of a group plan at work, it's normally at lower rates on premiums. If you're self-employed or between jobs, a group health plan may not be an option. If you start another job which does not offer health insurance, or work as an independent consultant, you'll more often that not notice a sharp rate increase when you buy individual health insurance.
While individual health insurance plans are purchased directly from carriers, leaving out the employer middle man, they do not offer the fuller range of benefits and lower rates associated with the typical workplace group plan. However, individual plans may cover you, your spouse, and your children. The two other main methods to get an individual health insurance plan when you're not fully employed with a group health plan are to obtain either "short-term" and/or "catastrophic" coverage.
Individual plans are "medically underwritten", which means the insurer may reject your application, if you have existing health problems. Some states don't allow this practice and require that insurance carriers offer you a policy, no matter what your medical condition. A list of "Guaranteed Issue Laws" has been published by the Kaiser Family Foundation, so do your homework before you let a carrier reject your desired policy application, or make exclusions to it.
Even though people enrolled in individual health insurance plans pay more as they grow older and more prone to illness, don't let that tempt you into to going without coverage. Even if you're healthy you could have a serious or near-fatal accident and be forced in "medical bankruptcy" as so many millions of others are each year.
Keep in mind, if you go without insurance for 63 days or more, a time period set by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), you'll lose your rights to coverage of pre-existing conditions.
Already sick with a "pre-existing condition"? If you're uninsured, it may seem to be impossible or too costly to buy health insurance. But there are practical ways you may be able to get coverage This will require researching a few basic situations.
Double check the facts in your state because, in some states, self-employed sole proprietors are eligible to buy independent health insurance at the premium rate of a "group of one". Even if you are a home-based businessperson you may do so, if you can show that you've been in business for 30 days or more.
Do some research to find out if you qualify for a group rate, even if you live in a state that does not offer these "group of one" insurance policies. For example, if you own a business, even a home-based business, and have at least one partner or employee, even your spouse who may be doing secretarial work for you; this situation qualifies you as a two-person business, eligible for a group-rate policy.
Before planning to leave an employer with which you have a group health plan, call and inquire as to whether their insurance carrier can convert it to an individual health plan for you. Even though the rate will be higher than your employer's group plan, it's your best option, for the time being, to secure health insurance. This is most important for those with existing medical conditions. Also inquire as to whether your spouse has a group plan at their work, and if they can add you on.

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Learn more about Guaranteed Issue Health Insurance. Stop by Brockton Barton's site where you can find out all aboutindividual and group health coverageto suit your family's needs.

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