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In a market abundant with a variety of plans, choosing the right health insurance can be stressful and complicated — but it doesn’t have to be. With a trusted insurance broker by your side, you can rest easy knowing that your health coverage needs will be perfectly tailored by a professional just for you.

See how booking an appointment with a broker can save you time, worry, and money toward your insurance plan.

What is a Health Insurance Broker?

Rather than work for one insurance company like many captive agents do, a broker is a professional, licensed, independent third party. They oversee a variety of plans from a number of individual services and “shop around” to find one that will best suit your needs.

Perks of Working with a Broker

A broker is an expert in all things insurance. They can answer questions you may have that are specific to your health and financial situation, explain every detail of a particular plan, and provide you with a deeply personalized experience. In addition, a broker will be much more available than a faceless company would be — they’re only one call or email away, and you won’t have to wait on a website or an 800 number to get help choosing a plan.

And the best part? Working with a broker will be at no extra cost to you. Brokers are typically paid via commissions that are bundled into the insurance plan sales they make. You can trust a broker to have your best interest in mind, rather than their own wallets, as you work with them for your insurance needs.

How a Broker Works for You

When you book an appointment, your broker will first take the time to get to know you and your individual needs. They will ask about your current situation, any health care coverage you may already have, and what prescriptions you take. In addition, you will discuss your budget, preferred pharmacies and physicians, and any dependents or spouses that will need to be considered.

Once your broker has an idea of your needs, they will then curate a handful of insurance options for you. They will go through each carrier and plan available to you and discuss key terminology different plan types, and explore the differences between insurance carriers and networks so you fully understand the policy you ultimately will buy. Once you find a plan that meets your needs, you’ll need to finalize your application and pay your first month’s premium.

Questions to Consider at Your Appointment

A good broker will know all there is to know about insurance — but it would be wise to get to know them as well before you make any decisions. Here are a few questions to keep in mind when you meet with your broker.

“How many insurance companies do you represent?”

A broker with a wider variety of companies in their book will be able to offer you more options, so it’s always good to ask about their portfolio. It is important to note this varies by state: some states have only a few options for carriers and networks, but others can have over a dozen different carriers with even more networks.

“How long have you been a broker?”

An experienced broker will be more savvy and knowledgeable than a fresh graduate. That said, if a newer broker is working under the tutelage of an experienced broker, odds are they have a pipeline to a bigger pool of knowledge.

“What else do you offer outside of shopping around for rates?”

A broker should be more than just a connecting force between you and an insurance plan. Though these extra perks will vary depending on what firm you work with, a broker should still be able to help with open enrollment questions, working with insurance portals, and explaining any key terms you may not understand. They may also have access to additional insurance products and other services that may not have occurred to you, such as hospital indemnity plans, gap insurance, HSA accounts, or even direct primary care plans.

Optimize Your Health Insurance

When you need help choosing a health insurance plan, there’s simply no reason not to talk with an experienced broker. They will take your individual needs into account and work with you to find a policy that meets those needs. In addition, brokers can offer other services, such as helping with open enrollment questions or explaining key terms you may not understand. A good health insurance broker will become your health insurance guide.