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2. How do you get it?
Most people get health insurance through their employers or
organizations to which they belong. This is called group
Some people do not have access to group insurance. They may
choose to purchase their own individual
health insurance directly
from an insurance company. Many Americans get health insurance
through government programs that operate at the national, State,
and local levels. Examples include Medicare, Medicaid, and
programs run by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department
Group health insurance is typically offered by employers.
Or, if you are a member of a union, professional association,
or other group, you may be able to get group coverage through
Some employers allow employees to choose between several
plans, including both indemnity insurance and managed care.
Other employers offer only one plan. Some group plans offer
dental and/or vision benefits as well as medical benefits.
So it is important to compare plans to find the one that offers
the benefits you need most. Once you enroll in a health insurance
plan, you usually cannot change to another plan until the next
open season, usually set once a year.
When group health insurance is an employee benefit, your
employer usually pays a portion or all of the premiums. This
means your costs for health insurance premiums will be lower
than they would be if you paid the entire premium alone.
When you get group insurance through membership in an organization,
you usually will benefit from being a member of a large group.
You may pay less for premiums than an individual would pay.
However, the organization often does not pay a share of the
premium, meaning you may be responsible for paying the entire
If you are self-employed or your employer does not offer health
insurance, you may not have access to group insurance. You
may, however, be able to purchase individual coverage directly
from an insurance company. When you buy your own health insurance,
you will be responsible for paying the entire premium rather
than sharing the cost with an employer. You should shop around
to find a plan that fits your needs at a price that you are
willing to pay.
Most self-employed workers are able to deduct their health
insurance premiums from their Federal taxable income, providing
them with an important tax saving. Most States also offer similar
tax preferences. If you are self-employed and buy individual
health insurance, you should consult a tax advisor to find
out if you are eligible for this deduction.
Insurance plans differ greatly from one company to another
and, within an insurance company, from one plan or product
to another. Some plans have multiple products (options) from
which you can choose; read carefully through the "fine print" to
be sure you understand the various choices.