What is the best private health insurance to purchase for myself?
February 24, 2005 7:22 PM   Subscribe

I'm thinking of quitting my job to start my own business. However, I need to have decent health insurance, mostly for perscription drug coverage. What is the best company to go with, and is there an optimal type of insurance for my needs (occassional doctor visits, perscription coverage with reasonable co-pays)? And what can I expect to pay?
posted by skechada to Health & Fitness (14 answers total)
where do you you live?
posted by seawallrunner at 7:25 PM on February 24, 2005

I can't answer your question directly, but you may want to skip insurance altogether and start shopping around for a doctor who will cut you a break for paying cash. Same with prescriptions, get a quote from one pharmacy and take that amount around to other pharmacies.
posted by mischief at 7:28 PM on February 24, 2005

Charlotte, NC. Oh and I'm 29 years old, without a family (so it's just for me) and male.
posted by skechada at 7:28 PM on February 24, 2005

it's been 5 years since I had to pay for my own insurance, but I had a PPO group policy with a $2500 major medical deduction through bluecross/blue shield. It didn't have dental, but it did cover routine visits to a preferred provider with a low co-pay as well as prescriptions with a co-pay of about $20 a bottle, depending on the drug. As I recall, I paid $110 a month for the service.

If I also recall, Kaiser Permanente was an alternative, but it had fewer benefits, more restrictions, for roughly the same cost.

Ultimately, I got married and got on my wife's policy at work.

But you don't have to worry about any of this right away. If you work for a large enough organization now, you can continue your current coverage through the COBRA system for, I think, up to 18 months. That's what I did.
posted by crunchland at 7:29 PM on February 24, 2005

Kaiser Permanente is what I use. For no deductible ($15 copay) and $139/mo for a 24 year old, it really can't be beat.
posted by SpecialK at 8:12 PM on February 24, 2005

As crunchland mentioned, there is always COBRA. Make sure you find out what the payment will be first, though. It might suprise you.

I pay insurance out of pocket now (you wouldn't believe how much full coverage costs), and am thinking about just moving to catastrophic coverage. If you are healthy, and you don't have any pre-existing conditions or ongoing medications, you might want to look into it.

Also, I would recommend talking to an insurance agent. They take a cut, but they might also give you options you didn't know about.
posted by bh at 8:15 PM on February 24, 2005

I've been self-employed for eight years, and the deck is stacked against us. I was only able to latch onto a non-ridiculuous catastrophic rate through USAA, being ex-military. Don't bother with the National Association of Self Employed -- I checked into it and it's a joke. The situation truly sucks, and I'm not expecting the likes of Bush to fix this anytime soon.
posted by rolypolyman at 8:20 PM on February 24, 2005

North Carolina seems to have something called a "conversion policy" (in case you want to do some googling), that covers situations where someone leaves a group policy. Here's the NC Department of Insurance document on individual health insurance (pdf) that covers this and other issues. And on this page is a link to a 28-page (pdf) "Consumer Guide to Health Insurance".

As may be clear from this and other answers, health insurance is very much state-specific. One resource for you is the NC DOI, which your tax dollars pay for.

And, slightly off-topic - if you can keep your day job while you start up your business, to get a better idea of whether it's likely to be successful or not, that would definitely be a GoodThing (tm).
posted by WestCoaster at 9:32 PM on February 24, 2005

For those with pre-existing conditions, check out state high risk pools. You'll pay a fortune but you will get the prescription and doctor coverage of a typical HMO and most importantly you will not be denied coverage for any condition.

These high risk pools are absolute lifesavers and few know about 'em.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 9:33 PM on February 24, 2005

A friend of mine quit his job here in Raleigh and he did the COBRA thing for a while. He finally incorporated his business and is now getting a huge discount through BC/BS. I'm not quite sure what plan he is on, but he's pretty happy that he incorporated 'cause he's paying a lot less in health insurance now.
At least that's what he tells me.
posted by NoMich at 6:14 AM on February 25, 2005

I used Kaiser as a teenager. I remember we had to schedule appointments two and three weeks in advance. Often, by the time I got to see the doctor, I wasn't sick anymore. That was useless.

These days, I'd recommend checking into Blue Cross/Shield and Unicare. They both seem to offer better rates than the other contenders. Or marry someone with good coverage. Hey, they do it for citizenship, so why not?

NoMich, I'm interested in your friend's experience with insurance rates for a corporation vs. sole proprietorship. Do you have any more information on that?
posted by Jonasio at 7:11 AM on February 25, 2005

Check out Working Today which provides independent workers across income and skill levels with access to a social safety net, including affordable healthcare benefits, workplace rights, and legal protections.
posted by ericb at 7:13 AM on February 25, 2005

Generally, you get a better deal as part of a group than on your own, as others have hinted at (e.g. deals for ex-millitary).

Your local chamber of commerce probably has a group insurance deal for it's members. Try to think of any other "group" of which you might be (or could become) a member of (alumni of your university, small business customers of your bank, a local community-service organization, an ethnic/cultural association, etc., etc.) and see if a group policy is available. But the chamber of commerce is one of the best bets.
posted by winston at 7:54 AM on February 25, 2005

Just want to second WestCoaster and ericb. I am a member of Working Today and it has been a lifesaver. They are customer service friendly and I can always reach a knowledgeable person on the 800 number.
posted by mlis at 8:37 AM on February 25, 2005

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