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Health insurance is complicated enough on its own. With so many options to choose from, how do you know that you’re getting the best deal? One of the biggest insurance questions we all have to ask is whether to go with an individual plan or an employer health insurance plan.
Individual health insurance is any insurance plan you purchase outside of a group or your employer. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, there are more options than ever for purchasing individual plans.
On the other plan, employer health insurance is only available through your employer. There are many pros and cons of each plan type, and this guide covers the realities of both so you can make the best decision for you.
Individual Health Insurance Plans
First, let’s talk about individual health insurance plans. With an individual plan, you purchase a plan yourself either through a health insurance marketplace or through an insurance agent. The risk for individual insurance is spread over a larger group of people, usually hundreds of thousands or even millions.
While people often only think about individual plans in terms of low-income insurance, there are actually a lot of different options and plan types available. Anyone can apply by looking at their health insurance options online or through a broker. Carriers are no longer allowed to deny coverage for individuals or their families based on pre-existing conditions under the Affordable Care Act.
Even as an employed person, you can still purchase insurance through an individual plan. Why might you choose to take on this responsibility of finding a plan yourself? Here are some of the benefits:
- You get more flexibility to choose the right plan.
- You can choose your own insurance company.
- Your plan is not tied to your job.
- You have more network freedom.
- You might be eligible for federal government subsidies.
As you can see, there are a lot of perks to choosing your own individual plan. These plans run at an average cost of $393 per month depending on your plan type or coverage. With a government subsidy, this cost could be lowered substantially.
Next, we’ll compare this option to employer health insurance.
Employer Health Insurance Plans
With employer health insurance, you get coverage through your employer. Most people are already familiar with this type of health insurance since it’s the most common option in the United States. You might also hear this type referred to as group coverage since the risk is spread throughout the group of employees.
While employer health insurance is easier to get since you can purchase a plan through your employer, it does have a lot of limitations. First, it’s tied to your job. If you lose your job, you’re out coverage. In addition, you’ll only have access to the available plans with the employer’s insurance company, leading to less flexibility.
However, there are still many advantages:
- There is no stress of finding your own insurance plan and provider.
- Prices are re-negotiated annually so you might receive a lower premium.
- Coverage is guaranteed for qualifiying employees.
- You can choose the plan you need from the provider.
- A percentage of your insurance is paid by your employer.
Though employer insurance costs are on the rise, you’re still likely to pay less in monthly premiums thanks to the employer offsetting this cost. However, you’ll have to deal with the reality of your coverage being tied to your job which can be a risk, especially if you have a family.
Which is Best?
Ultimately, there is no clear answer to which option is best when it comes to your health insurance coverage. The best plan is the plan you can afford, and the plan that provides the right level of coverage.