There are times when individuals and those with families need to acquire their own health insurance coverage. While there are plenty of agents and brokers available who would like to sell you a coverage plan, it pays to find a health insurance broker you can trust and who has your best interests in mind.
BUYING HEALTH INSURANCE: GET EXPERT ASSISTANCE
You can purchase your own health insurance, but the process can be confusing. It’s important to understand what you’re buying, and that the plan you choose is one that is best for you.
Start by first confirming that you really do need to buy individual insurance. If you are unemployed, self-employed or work for a small company that does not offer health insurance coverage, this may be necessary. The good news is that, under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), health insurance companies can’t refuse to cover you or charge you more just because you have a “pre-existing condition.” They also can’t charge women more than men..
If this is your first-time purchasing health insurance you should strongly consider consulting several independent agents and compare their advice. Finding an agent can be as simple as asking friends or family members for recommendations.
If you don’t know anyone with individual coverage, you can also find agents who specialize in health insurance through the National Association of Health Underwriters.
Check with the California Department of Insurance to verify that an agent has a valid license and a clean record, and has a substantial history providing health insurance. Preferably, you’ll want an agent who represents a number of major insurers, rather than just one company, like we do at JC Lewis.
Another key point is how they’re compensated. Agents get commissions from insurers for each policy they sell, often calculated as a percentage of a customer’s premiums. You want to know if your agent will make more money from selling you a certain plan, but not necessarily the best plan for your needs.
An agent should ask about your financial limits and any health issues. A good agent will ask first about your eligibility for CoveredCalifornia since this makes no money for the agent, but it may be the best option for you.
What else will a good agent do for you? According to an article at the Wall Street Journal,
“An agent should help guide you toward the insurer most likely to accept you. Keep in mind that if you are rejected by one carrier, you will probably have to disclose that in future applications. An agent also should help you fill out the application. But make sure that you know what’s in the application and that it is accurate. If you make mistakes, you may give the insurer an opening to rescind your policy later.
Finally, you should expect your agent to continue advising and helping you even after you purchase a policy. If you aren’t satisfied, you can change agents. In many cases, you can also redirect the flow of commissions tied to your plan to your new agent by informing the health insurer that you want to designate a new agent of record.”
FINDING YOUR IDEAL LOCAL HEALTH INSURANCE BROKER
There are a number of approaches you can take to find an insurance professional in your community. These include:
- Contacting associations that focus on health insurance. Examples might be your state or local association of health underwriters.
- Ask your trusted advisors, such as your accountant or attorney.
- Check with self-employed business owners for their recommendations.
- Check for local brokers online.
Before making a decision on whether to go with a certain broker, consider the following issues:
- Verify what services you will receive. For example, will they assist you with questions, issues and re-enrollment?
- Who will be your representative responsible for servicing your plan?
Opting for a local insurance broker will provide you with the face-to-face interaction that can make a huge difference in the quality of service you receive. This also means you work with someone who knows the area and the best health insurance networks in your town.
The Health For California website offers the following tips for finding the best broker;
“Here are some suggestions to consider in finding the right health insurance brokers in California:
Family members or friends are a good source. They have first-hand experience and can tell you how satisfied they were with their experience.
Do an Internet Search
Check out a few online brokerages and agencies and call to speak to an agent. Compare which agencies are more knowledgeable and helpful. A good agent will take the time to help you understand your options and answer all of your questions.
Check Reputable Health Insurance Associations
Some agents can be found in member lists like the National Association of Health Underwriters or the California Association of Health Underwriters.\
Using a health insurance agent is free, but many people want to know how Health Insurance agents are paid as well as how the Health Insurance agent certification in California works. Getting these questions answered can give you confidence that you are getting the best possible advice from a professional with the right intentions.”
CHOOSE A LOCAL EXPERT FOR YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE NEEDS
JC Lewis Insurance is a family-owned firm of expert brokers offering California health insurance plans only from leading health insurance carriers licensed to do business in California.
In addition to being expert brokers, we are licensed and certified by each of these insurance carriers to offer coverage to individuals, families, and small group employers in addition to Medicare supplemental and prescription drug plans for seniors.
If your employer doesn’t provide health benefits, an individual or family plan may be the best option for you or you and your family.
If you’re looking to purchase insurance coverage for you and your family, you likely have many questions and concerns. Bring your questions about health coverage insurance and you can be confident that JC Lewis Insurance Services will help you find the right solution.