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Purchasing Health-Care Coverage

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on November 30, 2006

Purchasing health-care coverage can be overwhelming. Here are some practical tips and advice on available resources to help you get started.

Start with the fundamentals—know what works best for you. Group plans are cheaper because insurers spread the risk of claims over a greater number of people. Individual insurance plans may be a good choice for the self-employed.

Investigate non-traditional options. Consumer-directed options include supplementing high-deductible health plans with health reimbursement accounts or health savings accounts. Most consumer-directed health plans feature tax preferred accounts that allow individuals to control a portion of their health-care dollars and pay directly for routine medical needs.

Assess. Assess your needs, know your preferences, and then compare options, so you can avoid coverage surprises down the road.

Look beyond cost. Don’t let cost become the sole factor in your purchasing decision. Make sure you fully understand the benefits provided under any policy and confirm that the insurer is licensed to sell health insurance in your state.

Talk to experts. The U.S. Department of Labor and the Insurance Information Institute provide a wealth of information to help you make informed decisions. The National Association for the Self-Employed also has a Web site featuring tools to help you identify and select the right coverage for you.

Robert Hughes
National Association for the Self-Employed
Grapevine, Tex.

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