You can find and purchase your own health insurance and many people do.
However, the benefits of hiring a health insurance agent are significant and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Whether you are an individual looking to enroll in a health plan for yourself or your family, or a small employer who wants to offer health insurance to your employees, the industry is complicated at best. In fact, unless you are opting to enroll through the state health exchange, Covered California, you will have a variety of choices and options.
Navigating these can be challenging, which is one of the reasons hiring a health insurance agent can be beneficial.
The 3 Types of Health Insurance Agents
Agents sell health insurance, but there’s more to it. While these professionals are licensed to sell health insurance, there are categories of agents or brokers in California distinguished by the method of product distribution they employ.
The California Department of Insurance provides this information regarding the basic health insurance distributors:
1. Captive Agent
A broker-agent acting as a captive agent represents a single insurer, or single fleet of insurers, and is obligated to submit business only to that company or, at the very minimum, give that company first refusal rights on a sale.
2. Insurance Broker
A broker-agent acting in the capacity of an insurance broker is an independent insurance salesperson who searches the marketplace in the interests of clients, not insurance companies, and may place coverage with any admitted insurance company.
3. Independent Agent
A broker-agent acting as an independent agent is a contractor who represents different insurance companies and who searches the market for the best coverage based on a client’s insurance needs. However, unlike an Insurance broker, independent agents must be appointed by each insurance company they represent before placing coverage with that company.
In California, health insurance agents can only offer plans from companies licensed to do business in California.
4 Benefits of Hiring a Health Insurance Agent
For example, an experienced agent can help you compare plan prices and coverage details and explain complex features or unfamiliar terms. In addition, an agent can determine whether you qualify for subsidies for insurance premiums and recommend plans that may be best for you or you and your family.
A qualified broker, like JC Lewis, will have years of experience and expertise and can walk you through the application process and help you understand your health coverage options in a way you might not be able to get on your own.
1. Makes the Process Easier
As we noted, it is possible to purchase your own California health insurance plan on your own, but it isn’t an easy or simple task.
That’s why it is a benefit to make use of a licensed California health insurance agent or broker. Health insurance agents can help individuals and business owners sort through the variety of different health insurance plans available to find one that fits the needs and budget of an individual, family, or company.
In addition, letting a health insurance agent deal with the delays and technicalities will help make the purchasing process easier for you in several ways.
2. Access to Options
At J.C. Lewis, we are agents and brokers, which gives us access to numerous health insurance plan options and types, and this is a huge benefit to you.
In fact, according to HealthForCalifornia.com,
“Individuals who choose independent agents or brokers who sell a variety of insurance companies’ plans will have the most options and are more likely to find a more suitable plan for their needs. Individuals who choose a captive agent, one who sells only one insurance company’s plans, limit their options to only one insurance carrier.”
3. Personalized Service
Working with a local health insurance agent also means you can get answers to your questions such as which policies will best fit your needs, or that your employees will benefit most from. In addition, you can work with an agent to learn how to save the most money and still get the best coverage options for you, your family, or your employees.
Working directly with an insurance company can be an option, but it can also limit the breadth and depth of personalized service you will receive by working with a local health insurance agent.
4. Get the Right Coverage at the Best Cost
Large, national, or regional insurance companies cannot know your or your health insurance needs and situation as well as a local health insurance agent can. Consequently, you will more than likely end up with a “one-size-fits-all” plan that is not a good fit for your needs.
Choosing and purchasing your health insurance policy in person with a local health insurance agent can ensure that you are getting the right coverage at the right price.
Your Local Choice for a California Health Insurance Agent
JC Lewis Insurance is located in beautiful Santa Rosa in Sonoma County and offers California health insurance plans only from leading health insurance carriers licensed to do business in California.
In addition to being expert health insurance agents and brokers, we are licensed and certified by each insurance carrier to offer coverage to individuals, families, small group employers, and to seniors with Medicare supplemental and prescription drug plans.
If your employer doesn’t provide health benefits, an individual or family plan may be the best option for you and/or your family. California’s health insurance plans are now categorized as “on-exchange” versus “off-exchange.”
Buying a plan on-exchange simply means buying a plan directly through the state government exchange, or Covered California. Purchasing a plan off-exchange refers to enrolling in a plan directly through an insurance carrier.
If you are a small employer and want to offer health insurance options for your employees, we are ready to help and to answer any questions you may have.