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Buying Individual Health Insurance

Updated on June 19, 2010

With all the interest in health care policies these days, it's not surprising that many people are realizing they really don't know as much about the subject as they should. If you are one of those who has a group health insurance plan, you may be happy with the coverage. If you will be buying individual health insurance in the future, it's important that you define what you need before you go out in the marketplace to find a policy.

Important questions should be asked and answered when you are looking for the right policy. Don't rush your choice. It's better to shop around to find the appropriate coverage at a price you can afford. There are plenty of places where you can look to find information about policies. A simple online search will turn up dozens of companies who are willing to sell you insurance. Many will have a referral to a local or regional agent who will meet with you to help define your needs.

Defining the needs you have will depend upon the obvious factors, such as your age, weight and gender. Then, you will need to think about some other factors. If you have a family doctor and want to keep the same doctor, you should probably look for a plan that lets you go to any doctor rather than a HMO that requires you to use the plan doctors. If you or a member of your family has a medical condition that requires visits to a specialist, make sure that your plan allows for coverage for this condition and specialist.

Medications and drugs are something to consider when reviewing policies. Most people have medications prescribed for medical conditions. These drugs can be more expensive than the office visit unless your plan covers medications. You should also determine if you are likely to need x-ray coverage in your policy.

Some plans allow you to be covered when you are treated by chiropractors, acupuncturists and psychotherapists. If this is important to you, make certain the policy covers such specialties. The emergency room treatment coverage varies in plans. Some plans will cover you for injuries sustained in an accident, but not for illness.

The price of the policy will be affected by the amount of deductible that you are willing or able to pay. Those who are young and single may want to purchase a policy that covers catastrophic events such as major hospital stays. An HMO plan might be a better choice if you want to be protected against the financial cost of doctor visits.

An insurer takes all your personal and medical history into consideration when setting a price on an individual policy. With a group policy, the insurer must cover everyone in the group, but with individual coverage, this isn't the case. Some states require that you be issued a policy regardless, but your premium price will reflect the higher risk that the insurer is carrying if you have poor health or other factors.

When buying individual health insurance, you should take all these factors into consideration. Your personal health and your financial picture can affect the policy that you choose. Check online for the widest variety of options to choose from.


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    • lanealanea profile image

      lanealanea 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      Thanks for the information Nestor, Voted up.