Individual and Family
Can You Buy Your Own Health Insurance?
Updated on October 31, 2019
Yes, you can buy your own health insurance and you don’t have to get coverage through your employer.
Depending on where you work, you may have the option of getting employer-sponsored health insurance. This is called group coverage. According to Medical Mutual, due to changing economic conditions, some employers have chosen or been forced to cut group insurance as an employer-sponsored benefit. This has led to a growing number of people looking elsewhere to get covered.
While employer-sponsored health insurance may still be an option for you, you may still consider buying individual health insurance.
What are the advantages of individual health insurance?
With employer-sponsored health insurance, your employer does the shopping for you. They choose your coverage options and you choose from there. However, when shopping for your own health insurance – which is also called individual health insurance – you’re in charge of choosing your health insurance plan.
Some benefits to getting individual health insurance are:
- You choose the insurance company and the plan that best suits your needs
- Your coverage is not tied to your job, so you can change jobs without potentially losing your health insurance
- You choose a network that includes your preferred doctors and other healthcare providers
- You may qualify for federal assistance in order to afford your insurance
What are the advantages of employer-sponsored health insurance?
There are advantages to getting insurances through your employer. Typically your employer will choose a coverage option for you and you can decide to accept the benefits if you are an eligible employee.
A few advantages of purchasing employer-sponsored health insurance are:
- Your employer does the shopping and decides on your plan options for you
- Your employer will typically split the cost of your premiums with you
- The premium contributions your employer makes are not taxed and your contributions can be made on a pre-tax basis. This will lower your taxable income.
What option is cheaper: individual health insurance or group health insurance?
Cost is a deciding factor for many when it comes to health insurance. The cost for both an employer-sponsored health insurance plan and an individual health insurance plan can vary greatly depending on several factors.
Factors that may influence the monthly cost of your health insurance are income, location, size of family, and the percentage of your premium is willing to pay. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), employers in the US paid 78% of their employee’s health insurance premiums in 2017.
Depending on the percentage of the Federal Poverty Line (FPL) you make, you may be eligible for Affordable Care Act (ACA) – also known as Obamacare – subsidies to help pay your monthly premium for an individual health insurance plan. Generally if you make above 400% of the FPL you will not qualify for a subsidy.
According to the KFF, the average premium tax credit received by marketplace enrollees in 2018 was $519.
Where do I shop for individual health insurance?
If you decide not to buy health insurance through your employer, you can shop through the state or federal marketplace, directly from an insurance company, or through a broker like eHealth.
While eHealth is not a government marketplace, you can compare a large range of coverage options and you can still qualify for premium tax credits if you buy an ACA-compliant plan.
When can I apply?
You can apply for health insurance during the open enrollment period at the end of the year, which is from November 1st through December 15th for 2019.
If you have experienced a qualifying life event, you may be eligible for a special enrollment period. Some qualifying life events may include a loss in coverage due to job loss or change, getting married or divorced, or becoming ineligible for coverage because of a change in income.
Special enrollment periods generally last for 60 days.
To help find the right individual health insurance plan for you, enter your zip code where requested on this page to get a quote.