With So Many Choices, How Can You Select an Individual Health Insurance Plan in California


Request a California health insurance online quote from BenefitsCafe.com and you will get nearly 50 choices. Actually about twice this number of policies are available but we do not quote plans with limited benefits or plans which are too difficult to understand.

You could choose an HMO, PPO, EPO, H.S.A. (Health Savings Account) compatible health plan, a high deductible, a low or no deductible plan, one with maternity or a plan without maternity coverage, a plan with no prescription medicine benefits, one with generic medicine only, or one with comprehensive prescription medicine where generic as well as brand medicine is paid for by the insurance company.

Take all of those choices and multiply them by the number of health insurance companies offering coverage in California (Anthem Blue Cross of California, Blue Shield of California, Health Net of California, Pacificare of California, and Nationwide) and you have a huge number of choices.

Then try to determine if the doctors you want to see are in the preferred network for the insurance company.

The choices can be overwhelming. Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less, reported that “a large array of options may discourage consumers because it forces an increase in the effort that goes into making a decision. So consumers decide not to decide , and don’t buy the product.” (p. 20.)

Deciding not to buy health insurance can lead to financial ruin. Health insurance pays medical bills and without it you many doctors and hospitals may not treat you. So, how does one go about making a decision.

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Rely on an expert who works in the field daily. Trust their advise. All of the people assisting consumers at BenefitsCafe.com are fully licensed health insurance agents by the State of California Department of Insurance. You can rely on our advise.
  2. Don’t try to find “the best” health insurance plan. All of the plans have trade offs: i.e., if you pay a low monthly amount to the insurance company, you will pay a lot of money to the doctors and hospitals when you need medical treatment. Conversely, a very expensive plan allows you to pay less when you go to the hospital or see a doctor. Any health insurance plan is better than no health insurance plan.
  3. Control your expectations: you can not possibly learn everything there is to know about all plans. It would take too much time. You would have to spend hours and hours sorting through the actual contracts from the insurance companies (called “Evidence of Coverage” or EOC) because the summary information on websites like BenefitsCafe.com and in the sales brochures from the medical insurance companies do not provide all of the detailed information on every item that you may be interested in.
  4. California health insurance is a moving target – it is constantly changing. Even if you spent the time necessary to learn all there is to know about all of the health plans available, the insurance companies change benefits and prices frequently, so your information would be out-of-date rather soon.Don’t be overwhelmed by the choices for personal and family health insurance in California.