Looking round the US right now, the recession continues and unemployment is not getting any better. For the insurance industry, this makes for hard times. With more people out of work, fewer people can afford policies. To maintain their profits, the insurers should increase the premiums, but that would only drive more people away. The middle class is struggling as it is. If premiums were to rise again, too many would drop by the wayside. That leaves only one choice. To keep the dividends flowing to the stockholders, the insurers must reduce payments out. By fair means (and foul), expensive policy holders are encouraged to cancel. Applicants with pre-existing conditions are turned away. Claims are delayed, are settled for less, or rejected. In this dog-eat-dog world, it’s more profitable for the insurance companies to let you die. That’s the bad news. So what options do you have for finding cover?
Assuming your employment has no health plan, you are looking for a private policy. The virtue of sites like this is that it allows you to search all the major insurers licensed in your state. Remember there’s a Department of Insurance to license and regulate insurers in each US state. There’s no such thing as a national or federal insurance policy. You can only buy a policy from an insurance company with a license in the state where you live. Every Department has its own website and this gives valuable information about the insurers and how well they perform. In the consumer-friendly states, the Commissioner publishes a list of the companies and shows how many complaints of unfair practices have been upheld against them. Sadly, the Departments cannot give specific advice but they do help you make better decisions when you get quotes from insurers through this site.
None of this denies the useful work done by insurance agents. First check the agent is licensed to sell health policies and that he or she is independent – you want reasonably objective advice not recommendations driven by the need to make the maximum commission on sales. With the right help, you can find a policy tailored to your individual needs at a price you can afford. Except, unlike the use of this site which is free, you will pay the agent a fee.
While we wait for reform, you may find it useful to investigate the high-risk pools. This is particularly important if you have a pre-existing condition but, unfortunately, not every state allows them. The cover is more expensive than the conventional private policy but some cover is better than no cover. As a final reminder, if you have lost your employer policy, the COBRA program allows you to continue cover. Once that cover is exhausted, there is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 which imposes a duty on states to give you an option to continue coverage. This may be your only option if you have a pre-existing condition and there’s no high-risk pool in your state. A good insurance agent will be able to advise you on your rights.
Everyone wants to find cheap health insurance. Using this site’s free search engine gets you quotes from multiple insurers. You can also ask agents for their recommendations. Check out your local Department of Insurance. Talk to your relatives and friends. Tap every resource to find that cheap health insurance policy. It’s out there if you search with all the right information in hand.