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Billing options for Individual health insurance

With most major health carriers in California, you have multiple billing options to pay your premium. The premium is the monthly amount you pay the carrier to keep your policy in effect.

Making sure your premium is paid is extremely important with Individual Family coverage as your health policy can terminate if it is not received. Health insurance by definition is a pre-pay policy which means that you are paying for an upcoming period.

For this reason, non-payment will not affect your credit but it will cancel out the policy. There is typically a grace period for payment of individual premium but it's best not to pay late.

If your health has changed, you may not be able to re-qualify for coverage when you go through medical underwriter. Let's look at the various billing options on the market and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Health insurance billing by mail

This is the traditional way to pay your health insurance policy.

You receive a bill by mail and pay it accordingly. The bill usually comes mid-month prior to the period you are paying.

For example, the a billing for the period of October might arrive mid-September. You usually have multiple billing periods to choose from. Some carriers will offer monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly billings.

Some carriers such as Anthem Blue Cross only offer bi-monthly and quarterly billings. Blue Cross has also instated a charge for the billing option of $2. This is probably a trend the other carriers will follow as they are trying to reduce costs in any way possible as health insurance rates continue to increase. Some people like to see the billing and have more control but this billing type is also subject to problems if mail is delayed or addresses change.

You can have the bill go to a different address than the actual subscriber's address. This is typical with parents paying for children's coverage or PO boxes since the subscriber address must be a hard street address. You can change your billing address any time during the year. Some of the carriers allow an online health application to proceed without the actual first check (made to carrier) being in house. Once approved, the carrier's generate a bill which must be paid to put the policy in-force.

Credit Card billing option for Individual health insurance

This is a newer billing type that has become very popular.

You can either choose to use the credit card option for just the first payment along with the application or on a reoccurring basis. Having the first payment by credit card allows the application to process with no mail required.

It can be done online or by fax. Some carriers allow you to choose or at least narrow the date of the credit card pull. The initial pull is usually at the time of application (can be refunded if you choose not to accept the policy) or a few business days after approval.

Credit card pulls are usually done monthly and the default date is the first few days of the month. The nice part about the credit card option is that it is automated and there is less chance of missing a health insurance payment and jeopardizing your policy.

You can always change to another billing type during the year but credit card is advisable as we have seen the issues related to people missing bills and losing their coverage with no options to re-qualify.

Automatic checking deduction option for individual family health plan

Automatic deductions are similar to the credit card option in that is automated and transacted on a monthly basis. Many of the same options such as choice of date pulled, monthly basis, and initial handling are similar to credit card. You will need to submit a VOIDed check with the application or with the form to initiate the withdrawal.

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