Are you self employed or a sole proprietor? If so, you have probably experienced the hassle and frustration of buying your health insurance and the fact that premiums continue to rise. What can you do?
My first suggestion is to work with a LOCAL independent broker who knows the local market. Independent brokers work for you…..not just one insurance company with a few plans. Independent brokers represent dozens of companies and hundreds of policies. Each year, the broker can shop the market for you to find the best plans for your needs and budget.
Some people ask me if health insurance costs more if you buy it from an agent. The answer is NO. By MO and KS law, for a given person and a given plan the premiums are the same price whether they are sold through a broker or directly by the insurance company.
If you are self employed, you really have two general types of insurance you can purchase: a permanent or guaranteed renewable plan or a short term plan.
A permanent plan is one where, as long as you pay the premiums, the plan will stay with you until age 65. This type of plan is a little more expensive but it will provide the best long term coverage. Be sure it is a comprehensive major medical plan (coverage for doctors, hospitals, outpatient tests, and prescriptions) and there are no coverage limits.
Your aim with a permanent plan should be to insure yourself and your family against the most serious and financially disastrous losses that can result from illness or injury. Buy a policy that will cover major expenses and pay them to the highest maximum level. Save money on premiums, if necessary, by taking large deductibles and paying smaller costs out-of-pocket.
A short term plan is a temporary health plan (typically 1-9 months) and should NOT be used as a substitute for a permanent or group health insurance plan. Short term plans are intended to be interim coverage or “gap” coverage, i.e., for people who know, with certainty, they will have long term coverage or coverage through an employer at a future date.
Also, if you have a group plan at work and also have dependents on the plan, you might have some other options. Sometimes it is more economical to put some or all of the dependents on an individual policy. However, this is a case by case basis and would require some evaluation of premiums and the health of your dependents.
One word of caution about shopping on the internet: beware and be careful. There are dozens of legitimate agents on the web. But, there are also unscrupulous agents on the web selling nothing more than a discount plan with no or very little insurance coverage. If you hear the words “all conditions accepted” or “you can’t be denied coverage”….beware!