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Two big things have happened that exploded the popularity of individual health insurance policies. One is that companies are allowed to pay for individual policies now and can reimburse employees tax free. And, starting in 2005, states are now required [by Congress] to have state-guaranteed coverage.
It [state-guaranteed coverage] is the identical coverage but two to three times the [average premium price] in the state. Some states are better and some are worse ... But healthy family members could get individual coverage then get the unhealthy person guaranteed coverage. So you can lock in a lower rate for the other family members who are healthy.
You can keep the insurance as long as you pay the premium. You don’t lose it if you lose your job. It’s permanent—meaning the price can’t go up for illness. Individual policies offer the same benefits [as employer-sponsored plans] but if you’re in the 90-percent healthy group, you could pay a quarter of the price.
Most people don’t know it exists … And even if they do know it exists, they don’t realize that it’s often half the price. In fact, most people think it’s twice the price—and it used to be. That’s because years ago, they took everybody. But that’s changed.