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How to Buy Individual Health Insurance

Whether you're self-employed, don't qualify for a group program, or simply want more control over your care, an individual health insurance plan will offer you security and independence in health care.

This page:

  Describes how individual health plans work

  Lists some tips for shopping for an individual health insurance plan

  Helps you find competitive rate quotes


Compare health plans and get instant quotes:


The search for the best coverage at the lowest price starts with comparing as many plans as possible from providers in your area.

To choose among the hundreds of plans available to you, use our fast and free comparison service to get quotes from major insurers in your state:

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Do You Qualify For A Subsidy?


Find out if you qualify for a government subsidy under Obamacare. Millions of Americans will have their insurance rates reduced under the new health care law. Learn how much you could save with our simple calculator.

The basics of buying individual health insurance

Buying an individual policy to cover your, and your family's, health care needs can be a difficult endeavor, but that's where we can help.

The first consideration is cost. While group policies offered by employers are almost always cheaper than private plans, that doesn't mean the health care you want and need should be priced out of your reach. You may have to sacrifice some degree of choice to keep costs reasonable, though.

The second problem is choosing the correct plan. An employer usually offers a limited range of benefit options, which does have the advantage of making your choices simple. When you're on your own, you may suddenly be faced with many, many more coverage choices. Confusion at this stage often leads to the consumer paying higher costs than is necessary.

How to choose an individual health insurance plan

This is primarily going to be a balancing act between cost and coverage, but your philosophy of care will come into play some too, and by that we mean fee-for-service (indemnity) plans vs. managed care plans (HMO, PPO, etc.).

Managed care is almost always a more affordable option than the traditional fee-for-service (or indemnity) policy. If you don't mind playing by a health network's rules, a managed care plan can be an excellent way to reduce the cost of an individual policy.

Managed care plans emphasize preventative medicine, so if most of your annual medical expenses come from check-ups and the like, this may be a better choice than an indemnity (fee-for-service) plan.

An indemnity plan, on the other hand, will almost certainly be more expensive, but if you have a trusted physician you'd like to keep or suffer from frequent illness, the additional cost is probably worth it.

Covering multiple family members under an individual health insurance policy, however, can rapidly become unaffordable with an indemnity plan. Managed care may end up being the only sensible solution, even if you have to sacrifice choice.

The best way to decide on coverage, however, is by comparing a few individual health insurance policies side-by-side. Here's the fastest way how:

Individual health insurance quotes online

Researching policy options online makes for fast and easy comparison shopping. We like the service at eHealthInsurance, because you can compare dozens of plans side-by-side. Read more about the health insurance providers they represent, or get an instant online quote.

If you feel you may be hard to insure (or live in an expensive area) try NetQuote instead. Their service is a little more flexible, and they represent agents around the nation.


Need more help before you shop? Read our guide to health plans for more info on managed care and indemnity policies. Our guide to affordable health insurance can help you strike a balance between cost and coverage.





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This internet site provides information of a general nature for educational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. We make no guarantees as to the validity of the information presented. Your particular facts and circumstances, and changes in the law, must be considered when applying insurance law. You should always consult with a competent insurance professional licensed in your state with respect to your particular situation.