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Health Insurance Glossary

Definitions for common health insurance terms

individual health insurance

DEFINITION: Individual health insurance is coverage that is purchased on an individual or family basis, as opposed to being offered by an employer.

Individual health insurance has historically been less expensive than group coverage (although employers often pay a portion of the premiums for group coverage, while individual policies are fully funded by the insured). This is because individual plans are medically underwritten and the level of coverage has traditionally been less than what group plans offer (for example, group plans cover maternity, while individual plans have often excluded this benefit).

All of this is changing in 2014 though. Individual plans will become more benefit-rich and will also be guaranteed issue. Subsidies will be available to help a lot of people pay a portion of the cost, as long as they purchase through the exchanges. Individual plans will be available both in an out of the exchanges, during open enrollment or within 30 days of a qualifying event.