Individual Health Insurance Plans
A Need for Better Questions

Participating in one of the many available individual health insurance plans is something we all need. With the cost of health care these days, which has been increasing at more than twice the inflation rate for the past 15 years, we cannot afford NOT to have it.

Buying insurance of any kind, whether it be for our health or our car, is simply a way to pass risk to another entity. My late father always said, “Insurance is something you can never get enough of, but hope you never have to use.”

One of the biggest obstacles in health care today is simply buying individual health insurance plans, for which in my experience there is no solution until the insurance companies change their ways.

As an aside, right off the bat, there is something different about purchasing individual health insurance plans: it’s unlike any other purchase. With other purchases, you have something to show for it, even new tires on your car...oh wow, can’t wait to show off those new tires to my friends! As if forking over the hard-earned cash for it wasn't bad enough, there's something about the entire process that's just ALL wrong!

First of all, the process is rather similar to winning the lottery; by the way, your chances of winning the lottery are one in 16 million. Sometimes your chances of obtaining one of several individual health insurance plans have about the same odds. You fill out a form from the health insurance provider and send it in. Then you get a phone call from a "nurse" at the carrier asking a ton of questions.

These questions can range from important to absurd; yes, they do need to know the medications you’re currently taking and why.

    Q: Why are you taking that anti-inflammatory?

    A: Because something’s inflamed.

    Q: Do you take illegal drugs?

    A: If I did, do you think I’d tell you?

    Q: When was the last time you had surgery?

    Q: Do you smoke?

    Q: How often do you drink alcoholic beverages?

You’re crossing your fingers that your truthful answer isn’t the “wrong” answer. In a couple of weeks from this nerve-racking conversation with the carrier's nurse, you get a phone call from your agent telling you wether or not you won the "lottery"; if you didn't, you get to start the process all over with another carrier.

I know all these questions are important; however, they never ask the correct ones. For instance, I swim two miles twice a week. I work out on most of the other days. Do they ever ask me that? NO. Do they ask me my average heart rate? NO. Do they ask me anything about what I do for prevention? NO.

The system is backwards; they only ask questions in an attempt to preclude them from giving you insurance. That really doesn't seem fair.

What are some of the healthy habits you have that you wish the insurance companies would ask you about when applying for individual health insurance plans? Notice I didn’t mention anything about eating healthy. Tell me what you think below.

Max Jaffe regularly writes about clever tips on buying individual health insurance and simplifying money at

In addition to this Individual Health Insurance Plans article, there is more information on how to compare insurance rates more effectively including term life insurance cost.

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