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Hm, let me guess: does it work because the employer pools all of his employees, and the insurance can account for that? Like one employee gets seriously ill, but 10 stay healthy, so the costs average out? I think private insurance here in Germany just forms arbitrary pools of people, but the don't just insure anybody. If you have some risk indicators, they won't insure you. Maybe the employers in the US simply have a good bargaining chip, they can say "if you insure our one risky employee, you'll also get to insure our other ten non-risky employees".

That is exactly what happens. There are so many tiers of issues its hard to dissect.

1. Big corporations get much better rates by pooling all their employees together and then negotiating for coverage. 2. The insurance companies pool all their subscribers and use that as leverage to negotiate better rates with the hospitals.

As an individual, you don't get the diversification effect of #1, so you end up paying a premium rate. If you are an individual the system is basically setup to vet you biasing toward no coverage.

Its hard to keep up with the state of the laws in my own country. (US) There are talks of market exchanges to basically give individuals back bargaining power, but I've heard that the insurance industry has managed to hobbel them pretty badly. I'm not sure where we are headed on this issue.

As an individual, you don't get the diversification effect of #1, so you end up paying a premium rate.


USAA quoted me $350.81 per month (same plan provider!) for two adults, two children, one adult 'healthy as a horse', one adult with preexisting conditions.

Just one pass, without shopping around.

That sounds pretty steep - it is - but it's only twice what you could expect to pay for car insurance.

I'll bet if I shop around I could find a deal. Wonder what would happen if more of us did so?

it doesn't seem steep to me, but where you live and your ages are two factors you didn't mention (deductible amount is another factor).

I live in fly-over country, in a drive-past town. Cost of living here is pretty low, all things considered. So I've gotten used to stuff being far less than it cost when I lived in the city.

I wonder if I could negotiate a salary increase from my employer in return for opting out of the plan.

USAA is an exceptionally good company.

I love USAA to pieces.

For years my time in the Marines was good only for memories (good and bad), cynicism, and a career in IT.

Which isn't bad. But then they let me in the club and my insurance cost dropped like a rock.

Plus they're super easy to deal with. Had some hail damage and where my neighbors were fighting _their_ insurance provider months later USAA couldn't get me the money fast enough.

"Overnight .. is that soon enough? We can borrow an F-18 and air drop in about 90 minutes it if that would be more convenient."

Well not that good. But pretty close.

Anything analogous, at least qualitatively, to USAA for folks with no military connections, in California?

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