Employer Health Insurance Versus Individual Plans. Understanding the Differences.

In the past, most people had employer health insurance. Their company did all of the research, chose the insurance company and picked plan options for employees. This is also called group coverage or group insurance. But, a lot has changed in recent years.

  • Challenging economic times have forced many employers to cut costs.
  • Rising healthcare costs have made it difficult for companies to pay for health insurance.
  • New and more expensive technologies, treatments and drugs have emerged, adding costs.

It’s more complex than just these three points, but the growing trend is for individuals to either partially or fully pay for their own health insurance. The good news is there are many affordable plans available. And, healthcare reform may provide you with additional benefits.

People who don’t have access to employer health insurance, like people who are self-employed or unemployed, can purchase their own plan that covers them and their family members. This is called individual health insurance.

Advantages of Individual Health Insurance

Employer health insurance has the advantage of your premiums and costs paid or partially funded by your company, but individual health insurance plans have their advantages, too:

  • You have more choices. You get to pick the insurance company, the plan and the options that suit you and your family.
  • You’re in control. Unlike most employer plans, you can switch plans, options or even health insurance companies any time you want.
  • You have more independence. The fear of losing health insurance benefits can often keep you saddled in an unsatisfying job. If you choose the plan and pay for it yourself, you have more freedom to change jobs.
  • You choose your doctors. The doctor you’d like to see may not be part of your employer plan’s network. You can choose your individual plan based on network providers.