What's the Difference between Group Health Insurance and Individual Health Insurance?
It's always you who is healthily insured (this includes your family, as long as you purchase the right coverage). However, you can be healthily insured as part of a group. This is group insurance. The advantage is that, as part of a group, the risk to the health insurance company is spread over the group. Normally, this means that you pay less than what you would pay for individual health insurance. That's why group health coverage is so popular.
So, with group health insurance you are still covered as an individual (or family), but the risk to the health insurance company is spread around the group. However, another reason, that health insurance is usually cheaper, is that a group guarantees the health insurance company more business. Anything that reduces their risk or increases the amount of money they collect in premiums means savings to you.
Even for very tiny groups, group health insurance policies are often subject to different rules, are more competitive and offer lower prices than individual health insurance policies. As a member of a group, the health insurance company basically considers you 'pre-qualified' and that reduces their risk.
For instance, if you get health insurance through your job that means you are healthy enough to work. For a health insurance company, this is a big plus. They can afford to offer you a lower premium because you are less likely to cost them as much money. Unfortunately, if you are applying for health insurance on your own the health insurance company doesn't have that same assurance - and so the premiums you pay will reflect this.
So, it's well worth it to find a group - whether it is through an alumni association, a trade association or through a professional association. You can also consider the American Association of Retired Persons if you are over 50 and trying to get health insurance. They offer an excellent plan.
Note that even some credit card companies will offer health insurance group coverage.
If you have to buy health insurance individually, and you are self-employed, a significant percentage of your health premium should be tax-deductible. This will help to reduce some of the impact of the higher premium, but you won't see it until tax time.
Don't forget to look at the other pages like: Health Insurance, how do I choose a health policy, group health insurance and individual health insurance, health insurance questions, long term care and save money health insurance to make an informed decision.