Home » Career & Finances, Headline

How to Buy Health Insurance

19 January 2020 756 views 5 Comments

So it’s already been a couple months after graduation-and your 22nd birthday-meaning you have been officially yanked from your parents’ insurance plan. That’s right. Whether you stub and break your little toe or come down with a case of the Ebola virus, you’re pretty much screwed when it comes to anything requiring medical coverage.

This is a problem everyone has to face at some point, and with it, a lot of tough questions float to the surface. Choosing the right health insurance plan can be a real hassle, so when you consider buying health insurance, the first question you should ask is actually pretty simple.

Do I even really need coverage?

And to be honest, that’s really up to you.

You don’t necessarily need health insurance. Heck, many people get along just fine without it. But when it comes down to it, it’s all about your own personal level of comfort.

Living without health insurance is certainly a gamble, but with the lower wages you’ll be making right out of college, the extra cash would undoubtedly be welcome.

Still, weighing your savings against the risks and overall medical costs should the unthinkable happen (e.g. you stub and break your little toe), you’re going to have a pretty tough time paying those medical bills. Ultimately medical expenses will cost you a lot more than the overall cost of your premiums, and you’ll be paying with a lot more than just an arm and a leg, at that.

But let’s say you do decide to play it safe, continue living off ramen noodles, and go with the decision to get yourself some health insurance. What now?

Well, first you should see whether your present employer sponsors any health insurance plans. A lot of companies offer insurance options for their employees. If the plan your employer offers suits your needs, perhaps you’ve lucked out.

Even still, another question comes to mind.

Is an employer-sponsored insurance plan better than a private plan?

According to Stacey Bradford of SmartMoney.com, individual coverage is becoming a viable alternative to employer-sponsored coverage. Bradford says healthcare expenses are on the rise, and many companies are therefore pushing the costs onto their employees.

Bradford even provides a list of the pros and cons of switching to an individual plan:

The Pros

  • Save Money
  • Pay for What You Need
  • It’s Yours No Matter Where You Work

The Cons

  • Less Comprehensive
  • Strict Underwriting Standards
  • Expect Rate Increases

(Head to Bradford’s article to read more)

Of course, if you’re going with an employer-sponsored plan, your payment options are likely going to be pretty laid out for you. But what if you do decide to seek individual coverage?

How much can I expect to pay?

To be honest, it tends to vary from person to person. How much you spend on health insurance depends, in essence, on how healthy you are. A chain-smoking sky-diver who hits up the bar every single night and likes to ride his motorcycle will have greater difficulty finding insurance than a non-smoker driving a Volvo who exercises for 30 minutes each day.

The catch is, you’re not even guaranteed to be accepted by insurance companies in all states-a cold fact of life. Some companies have guaranteed acceptance plans because they are state- or federally-funded with grants, but even then, that doesn’t mean that they have to offer you an affordable plan. They just have to offer you a plan.

Obviously, your premiums will also depend on the company you choose. Seeing as health insurance quotes are provided on an individual basis, there’s no escaping doing at least a little bit of research. Still, the more research you do, the better.

But there are some basic types of plans that everyone should understand as they shop around.

What are some reputable companies I can look into to get myself started?

U.S. News ranked the top health insurance plans in the nation, forming a list with companies such as Blue Cross/Blue Shield. If one of these providers interest you, be sure to check them out.

Looking around locally would also be a good bet.

You can also try popular sites such as eHealthInsurance.com. Of course, as with any purchase on the internet, be extra careful if you’re on a site that you’re unfamiliar with. It’s crucial to find customer feedback if you’re unsure whether a site or company is trustworthy.

Also remember to watch out for suspiciously low premiums. There are plenty of people willing to rip off those who aren’t careful, so be sure to check around and find some evaluations others have made of their experiences with this company.

Other things to remember:

  • Research, research, research - You can never know too much about what you’re getting in to, and the more you understand the way health insurance works, the more likely you will be to save money. And good coverage for a low cost is the ultimate goal, right?
  • Check with your State Insurance Department - It’s important to remember that insurance laws tend to differ from state to state. Thankfully, each state has a State Insurance Department to provide people with aid in finding insurance. Use this link to quickly find your State Insurance Department.
  • Be wary of the super-cheap - If one agent is offering a price that’s too good to be true when compared to other insurers, be very cautious. It’s all too easy to get caught in a scam, so make sure to check references for the company and trust your instincts. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • The importance of benefits - Along the lines of considering what benefits you don’t need, consider those you do. Perhaps you will be needing a solid prescription plan or coverage for regular doctor visits. It all depends on you.

In closing,

there’s a lot that goes into purchasing health insurance, especially because of how drastically different each person’s lifestyle is. It’s important to set out a plan before buying, considering all the things you’ll need, all the things you don’t, and how much you’re looking to pay. Shop around and remember that age old saying, “You get what you pay for.”

And of course, don’t be afraid to ask questions of both your doctor, your family, and your prospective insurance agencies. And if there’s anything you don’t understand, make sure you ask about that too.

Key terms

Some of these I didn’t even know before writing this article. You probably know a few of them already, but they’re good to have for reference. These terms that will certainly pop up when seeking the health plan that’s right for you.

  • Deductible - The minimum amount a person must pay before the insurance company steps in to pay any more of the bill.
  • COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) - A federal act that allows an employee to retain his or her employer-sponsored health benefits for a period of time after leaving the company. Of course, this is dependent upon keeping up with payments, and it’s not indefinite, so the idea is to find an alternative insurer ASAP.
  • Co-pay or Copayment - A small fee (usually something like $20 - $30) usually paid at the time care is received. Co-pay is basically in effect to prevent the idea that health insurance is free, keeping people from popping in any old time they get a sore throat or runny nose. Many insurance plans offer co-pay.
  • Formulary - A list of pharmaceutical drugs covered by an insurance plan.
  • Premium - In short, how much you’re paying for your insurance.
(No Ratings Yet)
 Loading ...


  • Lynn M said:

    In today’s job market, many recent graduates will be blurting out, “I’ll take it!!!” to the first job offer they get. While it is true that health care coverage is up to the individual and many young people consider themselves healthy, (if not invincible!), it is important to review what a job offers by way of health care coverage. Going without coverage is incredibly risky, especially considering that most graduates already have student loans to pay back. Something as simple as a broken arm (never mind a serious health condition) can cause financial hardship. No one wants to start their adult life under a mountain of debt. Often what an employer can offer you for health insurance will cover more than an insurance you will take out on your own, but it is good to be sure about that and weigh all your options. Don’t just accept a job without considering what the company’s health benefits really offer and how much it is worth to you.

  • Allison said:

    Excellent advice, Lynn!

  • she said:

    i sell insurance for a living and an important thing to do is make sure the company you buy from is licensed to sell insurance in your state. if they’re not, they aren’t really responsible for paying any of your claims, yet, they will take your money. be wary!

  • Lori Z. said:

    Don’t forget that an employer backed plan saves money by being deducted from your paycheck pre-tax unlike being out of pocket! Thanks for the rest of the rundown.

  • Helene said:

    Thanks for your contribution to Take Charge of Your Health Care Carnival. This is a very informative article; however, what happens to the college grad who can only find part time or no work in this recession. How does he/she afford a quality plan?

Leave your response!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.