What are my best private health insurance options in California?
September 10, 2012 11:04 AM   Subscribe

My wife is considering a job change, and the new one would no longer provide health insurance for me and our son. I'm an independent consultant. What are our best options for health insurance in California?

We've been very luck with my wife's current job-- they allow coverage of myself and our child for a monthly fee that's quite a bit lower than what I've seen just looking for private insurance.

She's now considering a new job where coverage for me and the little guy isn't available-- and we've got another child on the way early next year.

I'm an independent consultant, just self-employed, no incorporation of any kind. My questions are:

1. You are not my accountant, but: would some kind of incorporation of my consulting business give us better access to health coverage at lower costs?

2. Do I need to incorporate to be able to write off any private insurance we purchase to be tax-deductable?

3. If you're in a similar situation in California, what health insurance coverage have you found to be a good value?

posted by anonymous to Work & Money (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
When I lived in California I liked Kaiser. This is really a love/hate thing. What I liked about it was the convenience. It's all in one place. I could see my doc, get my labs done, visit the pharmacy and bippity-bop on my way.

It's nice for kids because you can come in anytime and be seen by a doc.

It can feel a bit like an assembly line, but even as an adult, I liked it fine.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:19 AM on September 10, 2012

I've used Kaiser's individual plan, and now that I'm covered by employer insurance still choose Kaiser (and in-between we got married so I could be covered, with Kaiser, under my spouse's plan). They're convenient and relatively inexpensive, and the "all in one place" convenience is really nice. You can dis the "assembly line" all you want, but my impression is that that style of medicine leads to better outcomes anyway.

Don't know what the current rules are with deductability, that seemed to change yearly. I do know that when I was trying to figure out how I could have a group plan through a payroll service they needed the company to have two unrelated employees.
posted by straw at 11:25 AM on September 10, 2012

I'm not in California, but when I changed jobs to one with really expensive insurance, I found an independent insurance broker and asked him. He had knowledge of plans that worked for my family which cost about 2/3 what I was finding by looking on the web for independent plans myself. It doesn't (shouldn't?) cost anything to ask a broker - they only get paid if you choose a product that they are offering. I just googled "insurance broker [mycity]" and called a few to see who had the best deals.
posted by CathyG at 11:25 AM on September 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm not familiar with California, and insurance markets and laws vary widely from state to state, but in Oregon I know there are associations that small one-person businesses can join that allow them to buy insurance through the association, rather than on the individual market. How do I know? Insurance brokers told me. I agree with CathyG's advice: even though an independent insurance broker WILL get a commission by selling a policy to you, this is the best way you can learn about the market where you live and find a policy that you can afford.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 12:08 PM on September 10, 2012

My husband is a part owner of a family business and I'm a freelancer and we have found our insurance options in CA to be limited. We ended up going with insurance through the farm bureau, of which he is a member due to his business. Definitely reach out to a broker. We have a high deductible HSA plan that has been not great but fine. One sticking point has been maternity coverage, our plan only covers complications, not normal delivery. Something to think about, Hopefully your wife's pregnancy will be covered by her job. There are changes coming down the pipeline, but as of last week our broker said we probably won't see them until 2014. I don't know if incorporating will help, our biz is an LLC and it didn't help, and we've never been able to write off the insurance, YMMV. HTH
posted by snowymorninblues at 12:19 PM on September 10, 2012

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