Individual health insurance is a type of medical coverage that you buy directly from an insurance company to cover yourself and/or your family. You do not need to be a member of a group -- such as an employee of a company -- to buy individual health insurance. According to the National Association of Health Underwriters, about 5 percent of Americans have individual health insurance plans.
Individual health insurance works in many ways just like group plans. You’ll still have a lot of options as far as types and amount of coverage and medical providers. And just like employer-based coverage, indemnity and managed care plans (including HMO, PPO, and POS) are available from most individual health insurance providers.
The most common type of individual health insurance is a simple deductible plan. You’ll pay for all of your care up to the amount of your deductible (a common deductible is $2,000 for the year), and after the deductible is reached, the insurance company will begin to pay a percentage of your costs, typically around 60-80 percent.
Individual Health Insurance Benefits
There are many benefits of individual health insurance. Some of the most important include:
- Individual health insurance allows you to customize your coverage. Employer-based coverage may provide fewer options.
- Individual health insurance allows you to shop around for the best rate possible.
- Individual health insurance is not dependent on your job. Whether you’re working or not, you’re still covered as long as you pay your premiums.
Individual Health Insurance -- Finding a Low-Cost Plan
Finding individual health insurance is easier than ever before. It is a good idea to compare rates, plan information, applications and customer service.
In addition to comparing rates for individual health insurance, there are other ways to save on your individual health insurance premiums:
- Keep your deductible as high as possible -- The higher your deductible, the lower your monthly premium. You will be responsible for more out-of-pocket costs should you need to file a claim, but the money you save on your premium may be well worth the risk.
- Stay healthy -- Keeping yourself healthy can save you money on health insurance costs. Excess weight or excessive use of tobacco or alcohol can cause your costs to go up significantly.
- Consider multiple individual plans -- If a member of your family isn't in perfect health or is advanced in age, it may be more affordable to purchase separate health insurance plans.