According to Bloomberg News, the national unemployment rate rose to 8.9 percent in April. Because most U.S. residents get their insurance through their employers, this means that a large number of individuals must now pay for their own health coverage.
Individuals can sign up for COBRA, which allows them to stay on their employer’s health plans for up to 18 months after they lose their jobs. COBRA, though, can be costly. According to the North Carolina Institute for Medicine, the number of uninsured residents in the United States hit 52 million in January of 2016. That’s up from 46 million individuals who did not have health insurance coverage in 2014. A big reason for this is cost: Paying for health insurance is expensive.
Fortunately, there are ways that individuals can cut the costs of health insurance.
Shop Around for Health Insurance
Individuals can save on health insurance by shopping for different health plans. Individuals can research these plans at the Web home of the National Committee for Quality Assurance. Consumers can also work with independent insurance agents or brokers to find the best plan for them. These agents don’t work with a specific insurance company, and will instead search for the most affordable plans for their clients. Working with an agent can be especially important for individuals who have preexisting medical conditions.
Stay Healthy for the Best Prices
Consumers should refrain from smoking, taking drugs or abusing alcohol if they want to pay the lowest premiums. Policyholders who smoke, for instance, are viewed by insurance companies as bigger risks than those who don’t. That’s because smokers are far more likely to need intensive medical care during their lifetimes than are non-smokers.
This doesn’t mean, though, that consumers should try to hide any existing medical conditions or health problems from their potential insurers. Insurance companies will certainly discover when individuals try to hide health issues. Instead of trying to sneak these conditions past insurers, individuals should instead give out as much information about their medical conditions as possible. For instance, individuals with a history of high blood pressure should make sure to inform potential insurers that they have changed their diet and are now taking medication to keep their condition under control.
Don’t Forget to Look at Other Options
Consumers don’t always have to obtain their health insurance through a private insurer. Trade associations or alumni clubs often offer their own group insurance plans that may boast far lower rates. Labor unions might offer the same. Paying for health insurance is never going to be cheap. But with a little research, consumers can cut a significant amount of dollars from their insurance premiums.