Friday, March 17, 2006

Health Insurance What to do before you quit your job!!!

I get so many calls from people who have decided to make the BIG BREAK!  They are tired of working for someone else, and they have decided to go into business for themselves.  This is a very exciting time; there is a lot to do and there are a lot of decisions to make.  One of the first decisions, BEFORE you leave the old job, is to decide on your health insurance plan.  If you can get COBRA from your previous employer, ask how much it will cost you to continue with it.  You need to budget this into your expenses.  If you can't get COBRA, then you need to see what you can do about getting your own health insurance.  What many people do not realize, is that insurance companies can decline you coverage based on your health.  What you consider healthy is not necessarily what the insurance companies will consider healthy, either. 
There are a lot of misconceptions about health insurance.  Most people think that group health insurance is less expensive than individual.  It may appear that it is cheaper, because your company is paying a percentage of the total cost.  In many cases an individual plan is the least expensive way to go.  It may even be cheaper than COBRA.  The worst thing to do in looking for an accurate quote, is to go online and see what rates they post.  Many times they use quotes that are accurate for a very healthy person, and you may not be considered that healthy.  Sometimes they show rates that are for an 18 year old male, and don't exactly specify that it is not for your age bracket.  If you do decide to go online, expect to receive many phone calls back from various agents.  One gentleman I spoke with recently, told me he had received more than one hundred phone responses.  Some insurance agents run quotes on their websites.  These are tied into a single agency, and you are not likely to get so many calls as you will from a search engine.  These rates are also more likely to be accurate, but not as accurate as actually speaking to someone who can give you advise.  Your health insurance depends on getting the right rates and availability. 
It is best to actually visit or at least call an insurance agent, so you can get straight answers.  How do you find a good insurance agent?  I always recommend you look for someone that you would enjoy working with.  This should be the start of a long term business relationship, so get to know them.  It is a good idea to look for an agent who is an active member of an insurance association.  These agents meet once each month to learn the new trends, laws and products that are pertinent to the insurance industry.  One such organization is South Atlanta Association of Health Underwriters.  It is a part of the National Association and the Georgia Association.  You can access the website at  ( and  Ask your agent if he is a member.  It is also advisable to make sure your agent is able to help with the increased life insurance you may need, as well as "buy-sell" and "business overhead" insurance.  These will become important as your new business grows.
It is certainly better to have all of the expenses understood, including your health insurance, before you make this big move. You don't want to quit your job and then find out that you can't get coverage or that it is not what you expected.  This is a big change and an exciting time.  Make sure you are fully ready for it.

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