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Personal Health Insurance

If you don't have coverage through your employer, then you need to arrange for personal health insurance coverage. While it is certainly less expensive when your health insurance is not a personal expense, you don't have a choice about what sort of coverage you will have. When you choose your health insurance personally, you get to decide the type and level of coverage that will best suit your needs and your budget.

Personal Health Insurance: Best When Portable?

An argument can be made that personal health insurance should be attached to the person, and not offered by employer group health insurance plans. It would certainly solve the problem of people having to deal with lapses in their health insurance coverage if they changed jobs.

Since employer health insurance coverage is renewable on an annual basis, employees don't have guaranteed coverage from one year to the next. The employer can choose to alter the group insurance plan, change carriers, or drop it altogether, and the employee has no choice in the matter.

Personal Health Insurance Plans: Coverage Available

When you are shopping for personal health insurance, you can choose between the following options:

  1. Copay Plans: Choosing a copay plan for your personal health insurance needs often gives you comprehensive coverage with the comfort of having only small out of pocket expenses for routine visits to the Doctor, prescriptions, etc. As the insured, you pay a fee to visit a doctor who is a member of the plan's Preferred Network. Your Copay Plan then covers the cost of the examination. This Plan provides coverage for Preventive Care visits to a doctor; most plans will also cover prescription drugs, outpatient services, and in-hospital care up to the policy limit.

  2. Health Savings Account Plans: This option allows you to deposit funds on a tax advantaged basis (up to an annual limit  set by the IRS and adjusted each year for inflation) into your HSA (Health Savings Account). The money grows, due to the power of compound interest, tax-free until it is withdrawn. No taxes are payable on the funds at the time of withdrawal they are used for an approved health care purpose. If you don't use all the money deposited in the HSA each year, the unused balance rolls is carried forward to the following year. With an HSA Plan, you are signing up for a high-deductible personal health insurance plan.

  3. High Deductible Plans: With insurance plans, when you choose a higher deductible, your premiums are lower. Take a look at your budget to make sure that you can afford to pay the deductible when you need to seek medical attention.

  4. Short Term Medical Coverage: When you are without medical insurance but know that the situation is only temporary, then you can look at arranging short term medical insurance for a few months (usually between 30 days and six months, but some plans will provide benefits for a longer time).

Personal Health Insurance: How To Choose A Plan

  1. Copay Plan: This option is a good choice for people who want coverage for basic (preventative medical care) or who have young children who need regular medical exams.

  2. Health Savings Account Plan: Consider opening up an HSA Plan when saving money on monthly personal health insurance premiums is a priority. You are in control over how to spend your health care dollars and you also receive some very nice tax benefits.

  3. High Deductible Health Plan: If you are able to pay for your routine health care expenses out of your own pocket, then a high deductible plan may be the right choice for you. Monthly insurance costs are kept down and this can work well for someone who has retired early and wants to be able to bridge the time between employer benefits ending and qualifying for Medicare.

  4. Short Term Medical Coverage: When you are out of work or waiting to be eligible for benefits at a new job, then short term medical coverage is an ideal choice to bridge gaps in coverage. Recent graduates can also benefit from this type of coverage, as well as early retirees who need something to tide them over until they are eligible for Medicare benefits. Students who are no longer covered under their parents' medical plan are also good candidates for short term medical coverage.

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