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Ask the Health Insurance Expert

My company offers health insurance benefits but the monthly premium is $950. Do I have to sign on with their health insurance or can I find my own cheaper insurance somewhere else?

You can try to find cheaper insurance elsewhere, such as your state’s health insurer marketplace or directly from an insurer.  However, 2014’s open enrollment period is closed unless you qualify for a special open enrollment period, such as getting married or having a baby.  Loss of your job-based insurance is also a qualifying event, but not if you voluntarily end it.

Even if the an enrollment period were open, if you have access to employer-sponsored health insurance you could not qualify for premium discounts (in the form of tax credits) if the portion you pay to cover yourself is deemed affordable, which is defined as you pay no more than 9.5 percent of your household income for your coverage.   (See “10 things you don’t know about health insurance marketplaces” for more information.)

If you want to compare health insurance premium costs for 2015 plans, you’ll have to wait until open enrollment which will be Nov. 15, 2014, through Feb. 15, 2014.  I’d suggest reading up on how to buy individual health insurance and be ready to compare premiums when the time comes.

Last updated: May. 30, 2014
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