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I'm a solo software developer and would like to find some reasonable health insurance for myself.

My wife has a job which allows me an opportunity to participate in her insurance group, but it is a complete rip-off.

I've been enrolled in a high deductible policy for about a year now. Beyond providing an upper bound to the amount of liability I might face in the event of a severe medical accident, it is virtually useless.

When I picked it up, it was about $66 / month; that price has since jumped to over $80. I'm also looking to pick up some dental coverage (previously I had a separate policy for this which has since lapsed).

I'd to have a policy that encourages me to see a doctor for regular checkups and does not imply a big penalty for irregular visits, and still limits my liability in a severe accident.

Any tips? Am I just a casualty of a crappy system?

Also, last time I used an online search tool to find my insurance policy. Is there a better way to do this?

  • Do you live where there is a Kaiser Permanente? $80 is pretty darn good frankly for where I live in the US – MrChrister Apr 25 '12 at 7:34
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    Welcome to the real world. Your premiums are going to go up as you age even if you are in perfect health and have hardly any claims at all. I won't claim that every family health insurance plan offered by an employer is a great deal, but you might want to carefully compare the coverage available to you through your wife's plan with what you can get on the open market before dismissing it as a complete rip-off. It may cost more than $80 a month, but it probably has far more coverage than your high-deductible plan or anything available to you (for the same price) as an individual. – Dilip Sarwate Apr 25 '12 at 11:39
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While the OP disses the health insurance coverage offered through his wife's employer as a complete rip-off, one advantage of such coverage is that, if set up right (by the employer), the premiums can be paid for through pre-tax dollars instead of post-tax dollars. On the other hand,

  • Health insurance premiums cannot be deducted on Schedule C by self-employed persons. So the self-employed person has to pay both the employer's share as well as the employee's share of Social Security and Medicare taxes on that money.

  • Health insurance premiums can be deducted on Line 29 of Form 1040 but only for those months during which the Schedule C filer is neither covered nor eligible to be covered by a subsidized health insurance plan maintained by an employer of the self-employed person (whose self-employment might be a sideline) or the self-employed person's spouse. In other words, just having the plan coverage available through the wife's employment, even though one disdains taking it, is sufficient to make a Line 29 deduction impermissible. So, AGI is increased.

  • Health insurance premiums can be deducted on Schedule A but only to the extent that they (together with other medical costs) exceed 10% of AGI. For many people in good health, this means no deduction there either.

Thus, when comparing the premiums of health insurance policies, one should pay some attention to the tax issues too. Health insurance through a spouse's employment might not be that bad a deal after all.

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Like most forms of insurance, health insurance is regulated at the state level. So what is available to you will depend greatly upon which state you live in. You can probably find a list of insurance companies from your state's official website. Many states now provide "insurance of last resort" for individuals who can't get insurance through private insurance companies.

You can try looking into professional and trade associations. Some offer group insurance plans comparable with COBRA coverage, meaning you'd get a group discount and benefits but without the benefit of an employer paying 30-80% of your premiums. As a software developer you may qualify for membership in the IEEE or ACM, which both offer several forms of insurance to members. The ASP also offers insurance, though they don't provide much information about it on the public portions of their website. These organization offer other benefits besides insurance so you may want to take that in to consideration.

The National Federation of Independent Business also offers insurance to members.

You may find other associations in your specific area. Credit Unions, Coops and the local chamber of commerce are all possible avenues of finding lower cost insurance options.

If you are religious there are even some faith based non-insurance organizations that provide medical cost sharing services. They depend upon the generosity and sense of fairness and obligation of their members to share the burden of medical expenses so their definitely not for everyone.

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