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More people going solo for health coverage

More people going solo for health coverage
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Author: chris walker


High unemployment and cost of group insurance plans have spurred interest in individual health insurance plans.

Health insurance companies say they are seeing an increase in interest in nongroup, individual health insurance plans.

It's a trend that caught enough attention from Cedar Valley Community Healthcare officials to prompt them to develop their own individual plans.
More people going solo for health coverage
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"It's a rapidly growing market place for insurance," said CVCH co-founder Jim Thomson.

CHCH's business plan is to offer insurance locally to area employers and small businesses. Some small businesses shun group plans, Thomson said.

"A lot of employers of five and below, instead of buying insurance, they're giving their employees money to go out and buy their own."

Adding individual plans will help CVCH meet the needs of such employers or give small employers the option to try that approach.

According to eHealthInsurance, a company that provides insurance shoppers with quotes from different insurers, Iowa ranks as having the lowest premium for nongroup insurance plans. The average monthly premium for nongroup individual insurance plans purchased through eHealthInsurance in Iowa costs $103, according to a survey of plans purchased through the company.

While premiums are an important part of an insurance policy, the critical component is the care it covers, said Rob Schweers, spokesman for Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield.

The average premium for individual plans listed by eHealthInsurance does not necessarily mean a plan will cost that much or less. People opting for individual plans usually find it to be an affordable alternative to a group plan because they are younger and healthier. People eligible for Medicare aren't likely to seek individual policies either, Schweers said.

"You won't have the sickest people in that group," he said.

The lower cost of living in Iowa could also account for the relatively low average, Schweers added.

"It's no different than buying a house in Waterloo versus California," Schweers said.

Younger, healthier people might pay more in a group plan than they would buying their own individual plan, Schweers said.

"You're part of a mix of the people you work with," he said. Someone with existing health problems would likely fare better staying within a group plan, he added. Each situation and needs are different, but people should at least explore their options.

"People don't shop for health insurance like they shop for a car," he said.

Thomson said CVCH plans to launch the individual options this summer.About the Author:

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