Option 1: Group Insurance
If you have a job working 40 hours a week and you’re on salary, you more than likely qualify for a comprehensive group insurance plan through your employer. Or, if you are a member of a union, professional association, or other group, you may be able to get group coverage through that organization.
Depending on your employer or organization, you can choose among several plans, including both indemnity insurance (reimbursement for medical expenses, regardless of who provides the service) and managed care (contracts with health care providers and medical facilities to provide care for members at reduced costs).
Dental and/or vision coverage aren’t always included, so shop around and compare (if you can) to find a plan that takes a head-to-toe approach to health care. You should also be aware that once you enroll in a health insurance plan, you usually cannot change to another plan until the next open season, usually set once a year.
As an employee benefit, group health insurance should be easy on your monthly pocketbook – your employer usually pays a portion or all of the premiums.
If you’re a member of an organization that offers group insurance, you will pay more out-of-pocket on premiums than an employee of a company, however, you may pay less for premiums than an individual would pay (see option 2).
Option 2: Individual Insurance
If your empower does not offer health insurance, or you’re a freelancer or business owner, you can purchase your own individual health insurance directly from an insurance company. Buying your own health insurance means you are responsible for paying the entire premium rather than sharing the cost with an employer. Shop around to find a plan that fits your needs at a reasonable price.
While it seems expensive to go this route, most self-employed workers are able to deduct their health insurance premiums from their Federal taxable income, providing them with an important tax saving.
Most States also offer similar tax preferences. If you are self-employed and buy individual health insurance, you should consult a tax advisor to find out if you are eligible for this deduction.
Insurance plans differ greatly from one company to another and, within an insurance company, from one plan or product to another. Some plans have multiple products (options) from which you can choose; read carefully through the “fine print” to be sure you understand the various choices.
Option 3: Government Programs
If you are a senior citizen, fought in a war, and/or earn less than the U.S. definition of the poverty line, you can get health insurance through government programs that operate at the national, State, and local levels. Examples include Medicare, Medicaid, and programs run by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense.