If the coverage available through your employer feels unaffordable, you can shop around online to see what's available. You may be able to find an individual market policy that will provide you with the coverage you need but is less expensive than the premium you pay at work. This is unlikely to be the case if your plan only covers yourself, since your employer is likely subsidizing a good chunk of the total premiums for the plan offered through your job. But some employer-sponsored plans require the employee to cover the full cost of adding family members, so it's possible that your family members could get a better deal with a separate policy.
Nearly a century later, private health insurance continues to dominate the U.S. health care landscape. Despite attempts by U.S. Presidents, including Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton, government-sponsored universal health care never materialized. And, although President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare into law in the 1960s to provide a safety net for citizens over age 65, the majority of Americans under 65 continue to get their health care from private insurers.
There are other online brokerages, both large and small, that can help you sort out the individual market health insurance options available in your area. Most of them can show you plans that are available in the exchange as well as options that are only available outside the exchange (no subsidies are available outside the exchange, but as noted above, you're probably not eligible for subsidies anyway, if you have access to an employer-sponsored plan).
How do the benefits differ? What would you owe in out-of-pocket costs if you were to be injured or get seriously ill? How does that compare with your out-of-pocket exposure on the employer-sponsored plan? Are your doctors in the network of the individual plan? You'll want to carefully consider all of these things before switching, and keep in mind that you won't be able to rejoin your employer's plan until the next open enrollment window offered by your employer.
There are premium subsidies available in the exchange, but you're not eligible for them if the plan offered by your employer is considered affordable and provides minimum value (this is true for your family members as well, if they have access to your employer-sponsored plan, even if the employer-sponsored plan is only affordable for the employee's portion of the coverage; this is known as the family glitch). Most employer-sponsored plans are affordable and do provide minimum value. So if you're shopping for an individual market plan instead, chances are high that you'll have to pay full price for it, without any subsidies.
Nearly a century later, private health insurance continues to dominate the U.S. health care landscape. Despite attempts by U.S. Presidents, including Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton, government-sponsored universal health care never materialized. And, although President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare into law in the 1960s to provide a safety net for citizens over age 65, the majority of Americans under 65 continue to get their health care from private insurers.

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis, in 2018, the average American worker with employer-sponsored health insurance contributed $1,186 for a single employee health plan and $5,547 for a family health plan. Since this is an average, some employees may be paying much more (employers paid the bulk of the total premiums, which averaged $6,896 for single employees and $19,616 for family coverage).


How do the benefits differ? What would you owe in out-of-pocket costs if you were to be injured or get seriously ill? How does that compare with your out-of-pocket exposure on the employer-sponsored plan? Are your doctors in the network of the individual plan? You'll want to carefully consider all of these things before switching, and keep in mind that you won't be able to rejoin your employer's plan until the next open enrollment window offered by your employer.


Baylor Hospital, in Dallas, Texas, introduced the first pre-paid hospital insurance in 1929, offering to provide medical services to a group of Texas teachers for a premium of 50 cents a month. The plan worked on the principle of paying for the costs of care for a small group of sick individuals by spreading them out over a much larger pool. The concept caught on, and by the late 1930s, nearly 3 million Americans were enrolled in “Blue Cross” hospital plans.
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