Research your choices before you buy. Basically, you will be looking into three options--associations, insurance companies and agents. For example, by going to www.eHealthinsurance.com, you will get a menu of options. Sam Gibbs, senior VP of sales, says that this online brokerage represents over 175 different carriers throughout the country. "What's unique about us is that within a given state or zip code level, every insurance plan that is available we put up on our website."
Know your income level. This is very important because it means ascertaining whether you qualify for public assistance or must purchase a plan through a company, such as Aetna, Blue Cross, Horizon, HIP, etc.
Get online and choose appropriately. According to Phil Lebherz, founder of the Uninsured Helpline, 43 million Americans are uninsured but about a third are eligible for "public assistance of some sort." Thus, if you are unsure whether you qualify for public assistance or must buy your own policy, going online will help. On the Uninsured Helpline website you will fill in basic criteria that will allow the portal to direct you to appropriate resources.
Follow up with a phone call. This is important when you have further questions, are unclear about whether a pre-existing condition will disqualify you or you simply have trouble with the idea of buying insurance online.
Reconsider all your options. Before you invest $500 or more of your hard-earned money, reconsider exactly what you are doing and what you and/or your family needs. While the commercialization of the insurance industry in America has its obvious drawbacks--cost, possible inappropriate direction of funds, the rush to push through drugs that may or may not be in Amercicans' best interest--there are also some upsides. The real plus is that the industry is not a monopoly and as a consumer, you hold the cards to shop around. If you are talking to Blue Cross or HIP (in New York), remember there are other options out there that may be a better fit.But don't take too long to figure it out. You want to be covered especially in the case of an accident or serious illness.