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Where to shop for health insurance

When you need health insurance, there are several ways to obtain coverage: group insurance, individual insurance, and policies offered by HMOs and PPOs.

Group insurance is generally the least expensive type of policy. This is because the insurer can spread the risk of insuring for health conditions over a large pool of people. If your employer offers group health insurance, this is usually the best place to get it, as employers usually subsidize part of the premium.

Look into trade associations

Other sources of group insurance are trade associations you may belong to related to your professional or personal interests. Many of these organizations are large enough that they can negotiate health insurance packages from insurance companies to offer to their members. In most cases, group policies do not require you to undergo a physical as a condition of receiving insurance, which is a benefit if you suffer from a chronic health condition.

Individual insurance

Individual insurance is another option. Most insurance companies offer either traditional hospitalization policies or HMO or PPO-type policies. When you apply for an individual insurance policy, you typically must undergo a physical; and if the insurance company accepts you, the results of your physical will have an impact on your premium.

The health insurance exchanges

If you have a computer at home or access to one at work or at a public library, the website makes it possible to shop for health insurance and sign up for a plan. The first step is to create an account, where you provide basic information about yourself and your family. You also provide information about your family income to determine if you are eligible for a subsidy that will help pay part of your monthly health insurance premium.

This screen grab from the website shows the extended deadline for signing up for health care coverage for 2020.  More than 8 million people have signed up for coverage next year under former President Barack Obama's health care law, the government said Friday, showing continued demand for the program amid ongoing uncertainty over its future.  (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services via AP)
This screen grab from the website shows the extended deadline for signing up for health care coverage for 2020. (Photo: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services via AP)

Once you've created an account, you can shop for insurance. The website makes it easy to compare both medical and dental insurance with different levels of coverage and different premium costs. You can also shop for insurance without creating an account, but you cannot enroll yourself or your family without creating an account.

Dive Deeper: How to choose a health insurance plan: The full breakdown

This content was created in partnership with the Financial Fitness Group, a leading e-learning provider of FINRA compliant financial wellness solutions that help improve financial literacy.

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