Employer-based health insurance has been the traditional option for most Americans. However, individual health insurance plans are becoming common among those who are self-employed or work multiple part-time jobs rather than a single full-time one. One of the many benefits of purchasing private medical insurance is the wide array of coverage options. Unlike employer-based insurance plans, you have the freedom to choose a plan based on personal preferences.
Whether you’re making the switch to personal health insurance or just want to get more information, the information below can help you get a better picture about your insurance options and choose a health plan that is right for you.
Individual insurance plans are health care packages that aren’t offered as part of another organization. These organizations can be employers, unions or other businesses. If you don’t belong to one of these groups, you will need to purchase health care coverage on your own.
When you work a full-time job, most employers include health insurance as part of the benefits package. These plans allow you to sign up immediately upon starting the job. However, individual health insurance plans do not afford you the same flexibility. You can only enroll in a private medical insurance plan during certain times of the year.
The period during which you can enroll in private health care is called an open enrollment period. Open enrollment occurs at the end of the year, so your health coverage will begin on the first day of the new year.
However, you may qualify for a special enrollment period (SEP) that allows you to sign up at any point in time. To qualify for a SEP, you must meet certain qualifications.
Scenarios that may qualify you for a SEP include:
- Changes in your household, such as getting married, getting divorced, having a baby or experiencing a death in your immediate family.
- Losing health coverage you had through work, school, parents or a government assistance program.
- Moving to a new zip code or county.
- Changes in your income.
- Becoming a U.S. citizen and becoming eligible for insurance.
- Getting out of jail.
The private health insurance cost compared to the cost of employer-based plans is typically higher. This is because the beneficiary is responsible for the entire cost of coverage. Aetna individual plans, for example, generally cost more than Aetna group plans.
So, is an individual health insurance plan the right choice for you? Continue reading to find out.