Perhaps one of the most difficult things about leaving a steady job is walking away from the benefits package. Once you’re out on your own — whether you’re starting your own business, working for a smaller employer that offers no coverage the reality is the same: You have to cough up a lot of money for what will feel like inferior health coverage.
Before you start looking for Utah individual health insurance coverage take a deep breath, maybe try some yoga stretches, because it’s a jungle out there! You can; however, take a sigh of relief, because after reading this article you will at least have the basic knowledge necessary to properly navigate the individual insurance market.
An important tip to keep in mind: shopping for health insurance can take some time, so make sure you give yourself at least 45 days to examine your options and apply for a policy.
Here’s how to navigate the private health-insurance marketplace:
How The Utah Health Insurance Market Works
If you thought buying life insurance was tough, just wait until you shop around for health coverage. Unlike an employer-sponsored plan that has to accept everyone at the same price, private plans in most states are underwritten based on your age, weight, smoking status and health history. In some cases, applicants will even have to undergo a medical exam. A preexisting condition as common as asthma could be enough for an insurer to hike your premiums, while a history of anxiety or depression might cause an underwriter to think twice. And if you have a history of heart disease, cancer or diabetes, you could be out of luck entirely. A plan could either be too expensive or include a rider that excludes the very ailment for which you need coverage.
You should also know that health insurance is regulated at the state level. In places like New York, New Jersey and Vermont, insurers must offer coverage to every applicant, regardless of age or health status. This egalitarian approach sounds great — until you see the premiums. Even young healthy men, who are the cheapest to insure, could be charged as much as $1,000 a month. In other states, such as California and Utah, there are fewer restrictions on the insurers, and premiums tend to be more reasonable for young people and pricier for older folks. The problem in these regions is that insurers can outright refuse to provide coverage. In such cases, consumers can buy pricy policies from a state high-risk pool. But it won’t come cheap, and it could exclude pre-existing conditions. For more information on the rules for your area, contact your state insurance commission’s Web site.
How to Buy a Utah Individual Heath Insurance Plan
The quickest way to get a handle on your options is to find a Utah health insurance broker. Just make sure you find broker that has access to a number of different health insurance carriers, and he/she understands the underwriting standards for each. The last thing you want is to be rejected from a plan that doesn’t typically cover someone with your health profile. Not only is it a waste of time, but it could also raise a red flag when you apply to other insurers. An experienced broker can steer you away from such carriers, and in the long run will save you a lot of headache, time, and money.
How Much is Utah Health Insurance Gonna Cost?
According to a recent study performed by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average employee paid $65 a month for health insurance in 2008. Employers picked up the rest — a $340 per month tab. How much can an individual expect to pay? America’s Health Insurance Plans says the average individual month premium for a health plan in 2008 was $231. While individual plans may appear cheaper, individuals have to pay the entire premium on their own. And as we mentioned earlier, those in restricted states, and older individuals with health issues, can expect to pay a lot more.
One way to keep your premiums lower is to increase your deductible (don’t go beyond what you can afford to pay out each year). On average increasing your deductible from $500 to $1,000 can save a family of four $80 a month.
While there are some benefits you can live without, others are important. A maternity rider is one of them if you’re planning on having children. Unlike employer-sponsored plans, which usually cover birthing expenses, private plans don’t unless you pay for it upfront.
Before you make your final decision, make sure you thoroughly understand the plan. Most plans only allow you to make changes to your plan once a year so make sure you’re buying coverage that will cover not only your current needs, but your future needs as well (i.e. having children). Finally, consider purchasing your health insurance from an experienced broker. A good broker can help you navigate the health insurance conundrum, and find a plan that fits your needs. And the best part of all about using a Utah health insurance broker is you won’t pay one penny more for utilizing their experience.