Small Group Health Insurance for Individuals and Businesses

Small group health insurance is a catch-all phrase that can apply to family health insurance, employer-based health insurance for small businesses, or even independently formed group insurance. As expected, small group health insurance tends to be cheaper than individual insurance but more expensive than large group insurance. Many of these factors are out of your control, but by shopping wisely, looking for opportunities to join a group health insurance plan, and preparing for future changes to the health insurance market, you can find affordable health insurance that meets your needs and budgetary restrictions.

Health Insurance for Individuals and Small Groups

It's no secret that people who buy health insurance on the individual market tend to pay higher premiums than those with group coverage, but fewer people realize that individual plans also have higher average out-of-pocket costs. According to the Commonwealth Fund, the average adult with employer-subsidized group health plans spent $2,250 a year on out-of-pocket costs, while the average adult with an individual plan spent $6,750 on out-of-pocket costs. Yet, other industry experts say you really can't know without comparing quotes for actual policies. Ruth Stoolman, spokesperson for Independent Blue Cross, claims individual plans are becoming more and more competitive. "It really depends on the plan itself and the amount of cost sharing from the employer in many cases," she says. "In fact, individual health plans may be more affordable than you think."

On the other hand, according to a 2009 Commonwealth Fund study, 73 percent of U.S. adults who tried to purchase health insurance on the individual market couldn't or didn't because it was prohibitively expensive. It's also worth noting that, with individual health insurance, your personal information will play a greater role in determining costs. And higher costs can be based on a lot more than just pre-existing conditions. According to this Denver Post article, women can pay as much as 50% more for health insurance than men, even without maternity benefits.

Finding Small Group Health Insurance

Family health insurance is, by far, the most common form of health insurance for a small group, but it's not the only kind. If you work for a small business that doesn't provide health insurance, it can be a life-saver (literally) to seek other employees to shop for health insurance together. Ideally, you can lobby the employer to provide access to affordable health insurance, even if the employer is unwilling to contribute to the cost itself. In theory, you can find any group to solicit quotes from health insurance companies, but these arrangements are often difficult to make and problematic to maintain.

The Future of Small Group Health Insurance

Health care reform is all but certain to affect the future of small group health insurance, but it's anybody and everybody's guess exactly how and to what extent this change will be. In principle, the health insurance exchange (scheduled to be up and running in 2014) should allow people to buy individual health insurance plans at similarly low rates as group health insurance, although it remains to be seen precisely how much costs will be reduced. In truth, the majority of Americans are likely to pay less for their health insurance, but most of these savings will be achieved with government subsidies more than economic efficiency.

Online Health Insurance Quotes for Individuals and Small Groups

Naturally, providing health insurance for thousands of employees at a large business is a highly competitive market amongst health insurance companies. Top-level health insurance brokers take the initiative by rolling out the proverbial red carpet for these large companies. Unfortunately, everybody else can feel like they're left to fend for themselves. Individuals and small groups have to deal with the greater overhead costs associated with selling these plans, even from the most responsible health insurance companies. To minimize this disadvantage, it's imperative that you shop online. And you don't have to wait for the health insurance exchange to be set up in 2014. NetQuote offers many of the same benefits with our online referral service. By filling out a simple online form, you'll get matched to several companies offering health insurance in your area. And, along with raising competition, you can review policy difference and premium rates from the comfort of your own home.