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How to Shop for Private Health Insurance Plans On Your Own

If you are not covered through your employer, or not eligible for financial assistance through a state-funded program, you will likely have to buy an individual or family health insurance plan through a private health insurance provider, such as Independence Blue Cross. Note: You may be able to purchase one of our plans on the health insurance marketplace (healthcare.gov) if you qualify for a subsidy.

You’ll want to start by seeing which private health insurance carriers are available in your area. Independence Blue Cross serves the Philadelphia and southeastern Pennsylvania regions (i.e. Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Philadelphia). See if private health insurance plans from Independence are available in your ZIP code.

Shopping for health insurance is much easier when you know what questions to ask. When it comes to health coverage, everyone has different needs and preferences. We can help you figure out what type of plan you want, how to find a balance of cost and coverage, and what other benefits you should consider.

How Do I Choose the Right Private Health Plan?

Understanding the features of a health plan can help you pick the right match for you. This video walks you through some basic questions to answer when shopping for a health plan, such as:

  • Is it important that you see doctors out of network or without referrals? If so, then you may want to look into PPO plans. If it is not a top priority, then you may want an HMO plan — you’ll pick a primary care physician to coordinate your care and get a network of providers to choose from.
  • Are you trying to save money on healthcare costs? If so, opt for a plan with a higher deductible that can be used with a health savings account to save tax-free dollars for qualified medical expenses. Or look for a plan with a tiered network. You’ll save money when you visit certain doctors and hospitals. This works best if your providers are already in the lowest-cost tier, or if you don’t mind switching.

Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze, or Catastrophic Coverage

The best way to shop for health insurance is to get a better understanding of the individual and family plans that are available. The Affordable Care Act requires all plans to be organized by the level of coverage they offer — platinum, gold, silver, or bronze. Plus, there is a catastrophic plan that is available for people under 30 or those who qualify for a special exemption. All plans cover the same essential health benefits, but the difference is what you pay in monthly premium and out-of-pocket costs when you need care.

The following chart helps you choose what type of health plan is best for you based on how much you are willing to pay towards your premium each month, and the cost you pay when you receive care. For example, a platinum health plan may be best for you if you use a lot of health care services, are able to pay more in monthly premiums, and want to pay less when you receive care.

 

Platinum

Gold

Silver

Bronze

Catastrophic

Monthly premium

$$$$$

$$$$

$$$

$$

$

Cost when you receive care

$

$$

$$$

$$$$

$$$$$

Good option if you...

Tend to use a lot of health care services

Want to save on monthly premium, but still keep your out-of-pocket costs low

Need to balance your monthly premium with your out-of-pocket costs

Don’t use a lot of health care services

Meet the requirements and need “just-in-case coverage”

Scroll or swipe to reveal all table data.

Don’t forget that you may be eligible for a subsidy to help you pay for your health insurance premium, out-of-pocket costs, or both. Check our subsidy calculator to see if you may be eligible.

HMO, PPO, and Other Types of Health Plans

We offer five main types of plans to choose from — HMO, PPO, and EPO options, plus HMO Proactive with a tiered network and EPO Reserve with a health savings account (HSA).

All of Independence’s plans offer you the widest choice for quality care in the region, with more than 46,000 doctors and 160 hospitals to choose from. PPO plans are great if you want a little more freedom and flexibility, while HMO plans may give you a lower premium, since you choose a primary care physician (PCP) to coordinate your care and refer you to specialists.

The following chart compares the differences between an HMO vs. PPO and other health plan types:

 

HMO

HMO Proactive

PPO

EPO

EPO Reserve with an HSA

In-network coverage

X

X

X

X

X

Out-of-network coverage

X

Coast-to-coast coverage with BlueCard® PPO

X

X

X

Requires selection of a primary care physician

X

X

No referrals needed for specialists

X

X

X

Includes a tiered network so you can choose when to save on care

X

Option of opening a tax-advantaged HSA

X

Scroll or swipe to reveal all table data.

Now that you know more about private health insurance plans and how to choose a plan based on your cost and coverage needs, you can shop and compare Independence Blue Cross plans.

Shop & Compare Plans

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