NU Online News Service, June 21, 1:15 p.m. – EHealthInsurance Services Inc., Sunnyvale, Calif., says a survey of 20,000 of its customers shows individuals and families can buy affordable, comprehensive individual and family health coverage on their own.

EHealthInsurance is a Web-based health insurance broker that sells coverage through a site at http://www.ehealthinsurance.com

Customers who bought coverage through the site paid an average of about $1,200 to $1,500 per person per year for coverage, eHealthInsurance says.

The company found that 88% of the individual policies and 84% of the family policies were comprehensive major medical policies, not basic, barebones policies.

EHealthInsurance says it conducted the survey to support congressional efforts to offer tax credits for individual taxpayers’ health coverage purchases, to reduce workers dependence on employer-based plans.

One major proposal calls for the government to provide a health coverage premium tax credit of $1,000 for individuals and $2,500 for families.

Some critics have argued that individuals and families start with less bargaining power than employers, and that insurers will charge far higher prices for direct purchasers because of the fear that direct purchasers may be sicker than customers who get coverage through employer-sponsored health insurance programs.

So far, though, eHealthInsurance customers appear to be paying reasonable prices for individual and family coverage, eHealthInsurance says.