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Individual Health Insurance - When to Have It

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Most people with health insurance are covered under an employer sponsored group insurance plan. However, for the self-employed, unemployed, and many students, group coverage may not be an option. As with all insurance, health insurance protects against financial risk, including protecting assets. Deciding when to have individual health insurance requires comparing the risks versus the cost of transferring the risk to the insurance company. The simple answer may be that everyone should always have health insurance, but that is not always possible.

For self-employed individuals it is very important to have individual health insurance. Any extended time off due to illness can have severe repercussions on the business. By protecting their health with an individual health policy a small business owner can minimize the effect their illness may have on their business.

For the unemployed, individual health insurance helps protect assets while they are unemployed. If the person previously had health insurance with an employer they will be able to continue coverage after being laid off using COBRA. Once the COBRA coverage expires, the individual will need to purchase an individual health insurance policy to continue coverage uninterrupted. By carrying health insurance while unemployed the individual protects his family from losing assets due to unexpected medical bills.

For many students entering college straight out of high school, coverage on their parents’ insurance plan can continue while they are a full time student. Once the student is no longer eligible to be a dependent on a parent’s plan they need to seek individual coverage. For some students the university they attend may offer a group plan. However, it is important that students compare the group plans to those offered to individuals. Since students often are considered to have fewer health risks than older adults they typically have much lower policy premiums on individual health insurance.

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