In America's current healthcare system, in most cases, you're better off with the crowd. Usually, that crowd is your employer or a government pool like Medicare or Medicaid. But sometimes, due to choices you make, or circumstances you can't control, you end up on your own, with full responsibility for your healthcare expenses. Here are some circumstances under which you might end up needing to seek affordable individual health insurance:
- You lose (or quit) your job.
- You have insurance through your spouse or partner, and they lose or quit their job.
- Your employer or your spouse's stops offering insurance for you or your family.
- You change jobs, and your new employer has a waiting period before you become eligible for coverage.
- You take early retirement.
In some other circumstances, you may have the option to participate in group medical insurance, but it's not in your financial interest to do so.
- You are young and healthy, but your employer group has a lot of older, sicker people in it, and your employer makes you bear much of the premium cost for either yourself or your dependents. Keep in mind that if you find yourself in this situation and you opt for your own insurance, you help yourself, but also make it harder for your employer and your co-workers to afford coverage.
- The group plan you are eligible to participate in doesn't meet your needs. For example, it does not cover doctors or hospitals where you live, or it does not cover particular health condition that you have or are at risk for, or the plan offers richer benefits than you want to pay for.
In any event, if you are shopping for individual health insurance, you need to keep in mind several important things.