Individual health insurance is very different from group health insurance in some respects. Many people have had group health insurance from a large corporate group plan and that is all that they have ever known. Many have never had to actually pick and choose between different insurance companies and different health plans as all of the decision making was done on their behalf by their employer. Here are a few quick things to keep in minding when searching for individual health insurance.
The underwriting for individual health insurance is different than the underwriting for group health insurance.
This is great news if you, your spouse and kids are healthy as individual health insurance rates are much cheaper than a comparable group health insurance plan. It could be a cause for concern if you have some health issues in your past as there is the possibility that the application will be declined due to what is called “pre-existing conditions” in your medical history. Most individual health insurance companies will look back into your health history going back about 10 years. If the application is on a fully underwritten basis and there are major health issues such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, etc. then the application will be declined. (What do you do at this point? Make sure that you keep your current coverage and elect COBRA benefits or any other form of continuation coverage and when that coverage expires you will want to look for a HIPAA eligible health insurance plan).
Individual health insurance is much cheaper than group health insurance.
Think of it kind of like; in individual health insurance the insurance company gets to pick and choose who they will extend coverage too. They choose those who are healthy and have the lowest risk to the company. Therefore, the rates are much lower than in a group health insurance plan where no matter who applies for coverage, whether healthy or unhealthy, they are offered coverage (and of course everyone that is unhealthy wants health insurance – this principle is called the law of adverse selection if any super technical people just love knowing the actual name of insurance principles). A good way to think about it is if you are healthy and on a group health insurance plan then you are in a sense subsidizing the cost of all of the unhealthy people on the group health insurance plan.