My Experience Buying Dental & Health Insurance For A Self Employed Professional
We all know that there are many benefits to becoming a self-employed professional. At the same time, though, there are some added complexities that come along with the territory. One of the most time-consuming and perplexing ones is the process for buying health and dental insurance. Most of you have probably always relied on your employer to provide you with coverage. If you were asked, do you know the first thing about buying an individual insurance policy?
For the first few years of my “self-employed life,” I purchased individual health and dental insurance through Aetna. Early this year, though, I was finally fed up with their premium increases and decided it was time to do some research.
During my time shopping for and buying insurance, I learned quite a bit about the process. Even though it sounds complicated and intimidating, there are several steps you can take to ease the pain and lower your overall level of stress:
1. Use the Internet, but don’t rely on it. Much like the majority of consumers, I started my search for health and dental insurance online. Soon enough, I was inundated with quotes and related information. While I was off to a great start in terms of the information I was collecting, there was a big problem: I did not fully understand what I was looking at.
I realized that while the Internet was a good place to gather basic information, I need to get some personalized attention before making a purchasing decision. This led me to call three companies and speak one-on-one with qualified representatives. They were able to explain what plans worked for my personal situation and needs. After these conversation, it was much easier for me to compare options and make an informed decision.
2. Do you have “health insurance stores” close to home? A few years ago nobody would have ever believed that you could walk into a store and purchase health insurance. Fortunately, this has become a reality. In Pennsylvania, for example, there are Highmark Direct stores in many of the largest cities and towns. As you can imagine, I took full advantage of this opportunity.
Tthere are many benefits of buying in person at a store including the ability to communicate face to face with a qualified agent, being able to chat with a live person who can help with the application process, and the chance to ask questions about each and every policy.
At my meeting, the representative explained which policies were best for self-employed professionals, as well as how they differed from one another. Soon enough, it was clear that buying from Highmark was the way to go for me. It wasn’t just the store that swayed me (this did help, though); it was the personal service, variety of policies, and reasonable pricing structure.
3. Consider buying from a company that offers both health and dental insurance. With Aetna, I was able to do this for approximately three years. It was nice being able to pay one premium for both types of coverage. Not only did this make things simple for me, but buying both policies also led to a discount. Unfortunately, my new provider does not offer dental coverage. For this reason, I have to deal with two payments every month. After examining the costs, I found that I was still better off financially in the long run.
On the surface, it can be difficult to make the leap to self-employment as you worry about how you are going to get the proper level of insurance without spending too much. While you will have to pay for your own policy, which may have been virtually free before, there are some hidden benefits; in addition to having more choices and greater freedom in what you buy, health and dental insurance premiums are also tax deductible.
If you are self-employed or thinking about going this route,the tips above should help you when it comes time to purchase health and dental insurance. Have you had to deal with buying individual health or dental insurance? I would love to hear about your experience and any tips you might have!
(photo credit: cote)