As if health insurance wasn't already complicated enough, most insurers refer to family health insurance bought on the private market as individual health insurance because it's not connected to an employer-based system. And while family health insurance plans do tend to be cheaper per person than individual coverage, their costs more closely resemble the sticker shock of private plans. Needless to say, this is bad news for families where finding affordable family health insurance is paramount to keeping the household finances afloat without endangering the long-term well-being of loved ones. That said, there are several strategies that can be used to help achieve exactly this end.
Affordable Family Health Insurance: Family of Individuals vs. Individual Families
This clever tongue-twister has a very important choice embedded in it: If you're shopping for health insurance for your family, you can choose one insurance plan that applies to each member of your family or a different insurance plan for each individual member.
Why would you want a different plan for different family members? Well, finding affordable individual health insurance is largely a product of matching your health insurance premiums and benefits to your health care needs. The best plan for a 12 year-old recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes is probably not the best plan for a 33 year-old mother in good, general health. That said, the wisdom of buying different health insurance plans for individual family members is rapidly evolving. The biggest hazards for insuring a young child involve hitting lifetime caps, hidden rescission practices, and getting hit with a pre-existing condition label, all of which have been largely eliminated with the enactment of health care reform.
Tips for Finding Affordable Individual Health Insurance Plans
- Don't assume HMO plans equal bad insurance. If your family doctor is already part of an HMO network and you have little reason to suspect you'll need to see a specialist on short notice, HMO plans can deliver quality care for the best price.
- Don't hyper-focus on the type of plan (PPO, HMO, POS, etc.). There are important distinctions, but choosing deductibles, co-pays, and coverage limitations are just as important for your overall health care costs and quality of medical care.
- For a family of four making less than $88,200, sizable, federal tax subsidies will be offered starting in 2014. Keep this in mind, as it may affect your long-term insurance plans and even coverage levels for this year.
- Don't wait. With the new rules, it can be tempting to buy crappy coverage or try to wait altogether until these subsidies kick in. It only takes one emergency, one serious affliction to rack up devastating costs.
Finding Affordable Family Health Insurance Quotes
Of course, the biggest tip for finding affordable family health insurance is to shop around. You can't hope to find the best health insurance plan for yourself or your loved ones by jumping at the first option you see. And this is a bigger danger than it first appears if you don't take a smart path in looking for affordable individual health insurance quotes. You may be convinced that you're going to talk to at least 3-4 different insurance companies but after going through multi-tiered options for different premiums, deductibles, co-pays, benefits, and exclusions with one company that seems trustworthy, it's tempting to go ahead and pick a policy and be done with it.
By using an online referral service, like the one here at NetQuote, all you'll need to get the ball rolling is to take a few minutes to fill out a quick online form. Once done, the insurance companies will take the initiative to contact you. This will allow you to use the vast majority of your time, talking policy specifics with multiple insurance companies in a short amount of time and from the comfort of your own home. Not only will you be able to find the most affordable family health insurance available, but you'll be able to do it in days, instead of weeks.