Individual Health Insurance

Health insurance can be offered through an employer or purchased individually if an employer doesn’t offer healthcare coverage, or if an individual is self-employed. With the passing of the Affordable Care Act, individual health insurance is easily accessible through state exchanges, the federal marketplace or on web entities like There are many plans to shop.

When considering a health insurance plan, there are some important factors to understand before buying coverage.

You Might Qualify For a Subsidy

If your total household income is between 100%-400% of the Federal Poverty Level, you may qualify for cost assistance in the form of a subsidy that helps lower the premium of health insurance each month. Subsidy assistance is based on both income and household size.

In some states that expanded Medicaid, you can also qualify for assistance if you make less than 138% of the Federal Poverty Level.

If you make between 100%-250% of the Federal Poverty Level, you could qualify for additional cost sharing assistance through the marketplace to assist with coinsurance, copayments and deductibles. However, you must purchase a qualifying Silver plan in order to receive the additional assistance.

Check to see if you qualify for a tax subsidy.

Metal Levels Are Important

Individual Health insurance is broken into five different metal levels: Catastrophic, Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Catastrophic plans are for individuals under the age of 30 who either don’t need or don’t qualify for a tax subsidy on their health insurance. Bronze plans are the least expensive plans with the highest medical deductible, and Platinum plans are the most expensive, with the greatest about of medical coverage. The more insurance coverage you have, the more you pay, however, if you have a chronic condition that requires repeated medical care, paying more each month for a richer plan might actually be cheaper in the long run if your insurance company is taking care of a bulk of your bills.

Be Mindful of Deductibles

If you take prescription drugs, look at every plan’s deductible coverage. Some health insurance plans have a joint medical and prescription drug deductible, while others have separate deductibles for medical care and pharmacy benefits. Accidentally buying the wrong plan can be costly if drug coverage is vital to your wellbeing.

Purchasing your own health insurance can take time, but if you are educated about the nuances in advance of buying a plan, it can speed the purchase process.

{INFOGRAPHIC: Everything you need to know about shopping for health insurance}