There are more than 46 million people currently living in the United States without health insurance, and the number of people covered by employment-based insurance continues to decrease, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In difficult economic times, more individuals are looking for individual health insurance coverage, especially those who are unemployed but ineligible for COBRA benefits or COBRA subsidies because of the many restrictions and deadlines. Individuals who are eligible for COBRA may only be covered for 18 months, so as their benefits expire, they will be looking for individual plans, as well.
Providing your clients and prospects with advice and resources for choosing an individual plan that best fits their needs can help them obtain new coverage or continue to benefit from the coverage they are accustomed to, while also maximizing their health care dollars. Consider sharing these four tips and resources with your clients, then, as they go about choosing their individual health care plan.
#1: Help clients educate themselves about health benefits plans
Health insurance is complicated, and many people do not understand how the system works, the options available to them, or the acronyms and vocabulary of the industry. A recent survey from CIGNA HealthCare showed that, on average, individuals spend 30 minutes reviewing their health options, but they spend eight hours on the purchase of a new car. Individuals should be educated on the details of available policies. The Internet provides a variety of resources that are available for your clients, with an array of informative Web sites incorporating the latest distance learning techniques. Through these free online resources, your clients can become educated about health care.
Tools include health trivia quizzes, podcasts, and interactive educational courses on topics such as how to reduce out-of-pocket costs, new health care options, and how to make sense of health care plans.
#2: Show clients how to evaluate their insurance needs
Some of your clients may be looking at retirement, and helping them understand the changes in their insurance needs is critical. Many people are simply looking to make their assets last through their later years, rather than accumulating and protecting additional assets as they did in earlier years. So, they need to re-evaluate how they approach health insurance requirements. Teaching your clients about their options, such as a high-deductible health plan with a health savings account (HSA) may help meet their needs. Using an HSA allows your clients to pay for their everyday health care costs up to a set amount, at which time the health insurance plan begins to pay for those expenses. They are protected in the event of a catastrophic health issue so their assets are protected. These plans are generally much less expensive than traditional health plans, which have minimal copayments and co-insurance.