When looking for health insurance, the first question you should ask is, “Does my employer offer a health insurance plan?” Most companies provide health insurance as a benefit, and larger firms are required to provide health insurance. If your employer has a health insurance plan you should take the time to look into the costs and benefits. Very often employer-based health insurance is less expensive than comparable individual coverage.
Employer-based health insurance is cheaper for a number of reasons. Number one is your employer bears some of the cost for your health insurance. Another key reason employer-based health insurance can be less expensive than individual health insurance is rates and qualification requirements are typically lower. You can also save additional money with employer-based health insurance. One way is to have your employer pay the premium on a pre-tax basis to lower your overall taxable gross pay. Another way to reduce your taxable income is to participate in your employer’s flexible spending plan to save money for out-of-pocket health insurance expenses such as co-pays, some medications and certain medical devices.
A concern you might have about employer-based health insurance is what happens to your health insurance when you change jobs, are released by your employer or otherwise become unemployed? A government program called the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) gives you the right to carry your employer-based group health insurance coverage with you for up to 18 months. While COBRA will allow you to remain insured, you will have to pay the entire premium for your group health insurance. Previously both you and your employer contributed to the cost of your health insurance. If you find yourself requiring COBRA benefits make sure to fill out the appropriate forms available from your previous employer’s benefits department within 60 days of leaving the job. Otherwise you could be denied COBRA health insurance coverage.
No employer-based health insurance? No problem!
What if your employer doesn’t offer health insurance? Not a problem, you can always buy an individual health insurance policy. And it’s possible, if you are member of an organization or group that offers group health insurance, to retain the benefit of employer-based health insurance in terms of lower rates and qualification requirements.
Whether your employer offers health insurance or you are just looking for an individual health insurance policy, be sure to take your time and compare health insurance quotes to find a policy that best fits your family’s health insurance needs and saves you money. It pays to shop around for your health insurance policy.