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The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the health services research arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, offers these tips when searching for individual insurance: • Shop carefully. Policies differ widely in coverage and cost. Contact different insurance companies or ask your agent to show you policies from several insurers so you can compare them. • Make sure the policy protects you from large medical costs. • Read and understand the policy. Make sure it provides the kind of coverage that’s right for you. You don’t want unpleasant surprises when you’re sick or in the hospital. • Check to see that the policy states the date that the policy will begin paying (some have a waiting period before coverage begins) and what is covered or excluded from coverage. • Make sure there is a “free look” clause. Most companies give you at least 10 days to look over your policy after you receive it. If you decide it is not for you, you can return it and have your premium refunded. • Beware of single disease insurance policies. There are some policies that offer protection for only one disease, such as cancer. If you already have health insurance, your regular plan probably already provides all the coverage you need. Check to see what protection you have before buying any more insurance.

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