Tips for researching and getting family health insurance?

Around mid-year 2019 we may need to find a family health insurance plan on our own, either by choice or not. I’m starting that project by researching what the options are and how to go about it. I don’t expect it to be easy nor inexpensive. We are a family of four, two kids, two adults. Like most humans, we have preexisting conditions, and we have one medication that’s expensive and will have to be covered (IME that may require a persistent effort from our doctor, but they’ve done that before on our behalf). We currently have Anthem Blue Cross, which we’ve been surprisingly happy with. 

I’d love to hear if any of you have been through this process or have any recommendations about what to look for, how to look and where to look. Of course, our ideal is to maintain access to the same organizations and doctors as now, ones we’ve had for many years. I’m willing to explore every single option out there. 

We’re going into this with eyes wide open knowing the current state of the health insurance system in the US is messed up! And it will be expensive! But it is what it is, as they say. I only wish, in whatever way, access to health insurance was completely separate from career paths and journeys.  


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I'd like to recommend John Baskett. He's a health insurance broker that will do all the research on your behalf at no cost to you at all. He's helped me and many of my friends. (Brokers get commissions from health insurance companies directly, and the cost for the coverage is the same with or without a broker) John has been in the business for over 30 years, so he really knows his stuff. Plus he's friendly and funny. He will find you the best coverage.

We did this for many years - it was awful. My only advice is to buy the most expensive plan (gold or platinum, for example) you can afford. This will save you the stress of astronomical co-pays when someone actually needs to access care. The out of pocket costs (co-pays and deductibles) for most "silver" level plans are unmanageable. (30% of whatever the hospital wants to charge can be an awful lot - the negotiated rates for marketplace plans are different - higher - than employee sponsored plans.) Expect to reach your out-of-pocket maximum, don't think of it as far-fetched. Also, be prepared for your premiums to rise each year with no change in coverage. One year, for example, our plan went up by $400/month with no change in benefits. Best of luck. 

We had a great experience using a broker. We had to switch from employer sponsored to individual insurance and I thought my only option was California Care. But with a broker, I found a more affordable plan with the right level of benefits by purchasing directly through Blue Shield. I recommend the broker John Greer at . He's very compassionate and went above and beyond to clear up a billing issue and explaining insurance benefits on the individual market. good luck!