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apply via ehealthinsurance.com or direct?
Old 08-28-2010, 07:29 PM   #1
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apply via ehealthinsurance.com or direct?

My COBRA coverage is running out soon and I need to get my own health insurance policy. Is there any advantage / disadvantage to applying for a policy via ehealthinsurance.com versus going to the health insurer directly? According to their website, one minor advantage (since I hope to get a policy for Sept 1) is:
  • eHealthInsurance offers the fastest way to apply for health insurance because many of the plans offered on our website can be submitted and signed electronically, eliminating the need to manually print and mail applications. This reduces average processing time significantly.
But I'm just wondering if there are any downsides to using them?
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Old 08-28-2010, 10:33 PM   #2
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I did not use them but did by online directly from the company. I had a policy before from another company that I purchased by going in person to buy. Both have there advantages. If you are new to the process you might want to consider applying in person as there is the possibility of getting some good advice. It is however just a possibility as you will be likely talking with an Insurance agent who has your best interests in mind their commission in mind.
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Old 08-28-2010, 11:06 PM   #3
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Generally the cost to buy direct is the same as buying through an insurance agency, such as ehealthinsurance. The advantage to using them is that they will show you plans from several companies -- and they represent more companies than most insurance agents.

So you can use them to comparison shop and then apply directly, if that makes you feel comfortable. Generally, with individual insurance, once you apply and have been accepted, all of your dealings are directly with the company, and the agent is not involved.

The disadvantage to not establishing a relationship with an agent, is that you then don't have a 'translator,' to help you understand some of the nuances of the contract you are signing up for, or the doors to go through in the claims process.

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Old 08-28-2010, 11:32 PM   #4
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Has anyone gotten health insurance like this in 3 days? I thought it took at least a month for them to make decision.
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Old 08-28-2010, 11:46 PM   #5
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Has anyone gotten health insurance like this in 3 days? I thought it took at least a month for them to make decision.
I don't remember exactly the number of days but we were approved in less than a week. If memory serves me well?
I was not on cobra though. I went straight from mega corp blue cross blue shield to my own private policy with the same company (bcbs).
That may had made a huge difference, since they basically had all our medical records to look at.
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Old 08-29-2010, 12:33 AM   #6
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Has anyone gotten health insurance like this in 3 days? I thought it took at least a month for them to make decision.
Depends on processing time and if they need to order medical records. Some of my apps get approved in less than 24 hours, some take over a month.

For the OP, I would strongly, strongly recommend NOT purchasing directly or through ehealthinsurance. Find a local insurance agent that is independent and sells for all of the major insurance companies in your state. They should know the underwriting differences between companies inside and out and be able to tell you what to look out for in comparing policies. There is no cost to use an independent agent, it is exactly the same as if you applied through ehealthinsurance.com or directly with the company.
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Old 08-29-2010, 12:53 AM   #7
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Has anyone gotten health insurance like this in 3 days? I thought it took at least a month for them to make decision.
I think I was approved in 1 business day. I electronically submitted. I also made sure the insurance was portable to certain other states without underwriting, I might have done this before I submitted the application.

I spent a fair amount of time filling out the application *exactly* as required. It takes time to pull all that information togther. And I saved my own copy of my electronic submission and archived it for future reference.

I wish I could remember if I applied via e-healthinsurance.com or directly, but I can't. But ehealthinsurance is how I narrowed down the candidates.

Basically, after weeks of thorough research and record gathering, the actual application and submission process was trivial.

To OP: In the absence of special circumstances, you should never wait until near the end of COBRA to apply for health insurance. I am not scolding you (sorry if it sounds like that, and there might be special circumstances), but mentioning it for the benefit of others.

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Old 08-29-2010, 12:56 AM   #8
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I should also mention that after approval, I think they have to send you something to sign, yada yada yada. And for me the coverage was effective at the next 15 day interval of my choice (like the 1st or 16th). I could choose for it to become effective on any of these chosen days up to something like 60 days into the future. Also, if anything were to happen medically before coverage started I would have to report it and they reserved the right to rescind approval.
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Old 08-29-2010, 09:01 AM   #9
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Has anyone gotten health insurance like this in 3 days? I thought it took at least a month for them to make decision.
Oooops, I meant that I hope to get a policy by Oct 1, not Sept 1.

I really do loose track of what day it is.
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Old 08-29-2010, 09:13 AM   #10
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...For the OP, I would strongly, strongly recommend NOT purchasing directly or through ehealthinsurance. Find a local insurance agent that is independent and sells for all of the major insurance companies in your state. They should know the underwriting differences between companies inside and out and be able to tell you what to look out for in comparing policies. There is no cost to use an independent agent, it is exactly the same as if you applied through ehealthinsurance.com or directly with the company.
Okay, I have to admit I'm totally clueless about this. I didn't know that there were independent agents who sold health insurance policies. In NJ, where I live, there are only 3 health insurance providers for me to choose from, and among those I found 4 plans that I consider affordable while providing reasonable coverage. But I will look into finding a local agent - thanks for the advice!
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Old 08-29-2010, 09:21 AM   #11
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...To OP: In the absence of special circumstances, you should never wait until near the end of COBRA to apply for health insurance. I am not scolding you (sorry if it sounds like that, and there might be special circumstances), but mentioning it for the benefit of others.
Kramer
Right now, I've just hit the 15 month mark on COBRA, so the 65% government subsidy ran out for me and my monthly bill skyrocketed. I still have 3 months of COBRA left and I'm hoping that's plenty of time for me to get new insurance started.

Under a private health insurance plan, my cost should be a lot less than COBRA now that the subsidy ended, so that's why I'm hoping to get this in place for Oct 1 (not Sept 1).
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Old 08-29-2010, 09:53 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by JoeDreaming View Post
Okay, I have to admit I'm totally clueless about this. I didn't know that there were independent agents who sold health insurance policies. In NJ, where I live, there are only 3 health insurance providers for me to choose from, and among those I found 4 plans that I consider affordable while providing reasonable coverage. But I will look into finding a local agent - thanks for the advice!
My condolences on needing to buy insurance in NJ. NJ is an extremely expensive state to buy a policy in. Find a local agent who can advise you on exactly what the coverage you will be getting from those cheaper policies and whether you will be adequately protected.
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Old 08-29-2010, 10:23 AM   #13
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My condolences on needing to buy insurance in NJ. NJ is an extremely expensive state to buy a policy in. Find a local agent who can advise you on exactly what the coverage you will be getting from those cheaper policies and whether you will be adequately protected.
x2, individual coverage in NJ is incredibly expensive. As far as I know, there is no underwriting and all coverage is guaranteed-issue, but an independent agent can at least advise you of what the major differences are between networks, any coverage limitations, etc. I'm not sure if NJ has standardized policies like Massachusetts or not. It might be hard to find an independent agent in NJ though since they probably get paid next to nothing on GI policies.
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Old 08-29-2010, 12:24 PM   #14
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Regarding independent agents - from what I gather, using one won't cost me anything, the agent gets a commission from the health insurance company. So won't the agent just try to steer me to a more expensive policy (assuming that's a bigger commission for them)? - Just like Fisherman said in the 1st reply to my post.
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Old 08-29-2010, 12:56 PM   #15
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Regarding independent agents - from what I gather, using one won't cost me anything, the agent gets a commission from the health insurance company. So won't the agent just try to steer me to a more expensive policy (assuming that's a bigger commission for them)? - Just like Fisherman said in the 1st reply to my post.
No, because they know another independent agent will likely come along and explain why they don't need the more expensive policy. I replace expensive low-deductible co-pay policies all the time with HSA plans by explaining the difference in cost, potential expenses, and tax advantages. When people are shown the reasoning behind the recommendation, they become more trusting. The most expensive policy likely provides the least overall value.

It's also possible that if the policies are guaranteed-issue, the commission is a flat rate instead of percentage based.
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Old 09-17-2010, 02:19 PM   #16
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As a 30-year veteran of the health insurance industry, I can safely say that the vast majority of health insurance brokers will take the time to research and compare plans and recommend the policies that best suit your needs. Ok. Not vast majority. Majority.

The key is their experience and to make sure they represent most/all of the available carriers.
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Old 09-17-2010, 04:15 PM   #17
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CAUTION: while ehealthinsurance will get you the best rates, they may only be good for a year. I had UHC through them, went up 20% after 1st year, they told me I had a special rate, so I had to go back and reapply to get a new insurance policy.
TJ
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Old 09-17-2010, 04:16 PM   #18
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CAUTION: while ehealthinsurance will get you the best rates, they may only be good for a year. I had UHC through them, went up 20% after 1st year, they told me I had a special rate, so I had to go back and reapply to get a new insurance policy.
TJ
You didn't have a special rate, your 12-month rate guarantee just expired. Same with any other policy.
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Old 09-18-2010, 08:21 AM   #19
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When I got individual health insurance, I looked at the various potential plans via ehealthinsurance, but when it was time to apply, I did so through an independent agent. Found an agent through NAHU - Consumer Information - Find an Agent

I think the advantage with an agent is that a good agent has a feel ahead of time if you will be accepted or not so they only have you apply for ones which you should get accepted as if you applied and got turned down they might make it more difficult to reapply.

When I applied with the agent, I mentioned that I had narrowed down my choices to a few that I had found through ehealthinsurance and we worked from there.
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Old 09-18-2010, 04:17 PM   #20
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I vote for using an agent. I think it is easier for the average person like me to become adept at judging human character than to become expert in every field that he might need services from. It is just not very realistic to think you will be able to skillfully do everything yourself. It is hard enough to really know what is going on in the one or two fields of your specialization.

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