Just because you are self employed or don’t work for a company that offers group health insurance, that doesn’t mean you can’t get it. 

Depending on the state you live in, there are ways to get group health insurance through associations and membership organizations.

Unlike individual health insurance plans that include an underwriting process that requires a health exam and have a high turn down right, with group health insurance, the chances of getting coverage declined are minimal and the coverage includes all the major benefits.  Group coverage also tends to have much smaller deductibles than individual health care.

With group insurance “the benefits tend to be richer,” says Carrie McLean, a licensed insurance agent for eHealthInsurance.com. “You might have a smaller deductible and unlimited doctor visits.”

Group Coverage for One or Two

Although not widespread, according to eHealthInsurance.com some states, including Massachusetts, Washington, New York, Florida and Colorado allow groups of one to be eligible for group health insurance.

California and New Jersey allow two-person businesses to buy group insurance for one person, if one employee has group insurance from another source, like a spouse’s employer. In order to be eligible for group insurance in any state, recipients have to have documentation that they have a business.

Let’s say you run a cleaning service but the only other person on the payroll is your wife. If you live in a state that allows groups of two to get group health insurance then you would be eligible. Both of you have to actively work in the business and both must be on the payroll, according to Craig Lordigyan, an agent and managing partner at The Lordigyan Insurance Agency.

Associations and Membership Organization Coverage

If you don’t live in a state that offers group health insurance to small groups then you may be able to get the insurance by joining an association or membership organization. 

In general, an association or membership organization is a group created to support the interests of people in a specific industry or trade.

For instance, The Gasoline Retailers Association provides group benefits for repair shops. So if you worked as a mechanic in a repair shop that has only two employees, that shop could offer you group coverage, says Lordigyan.

AARP also offers group health insurance. According to AARP, its Essential Premier Health Insurance Plan is similar to the health insurance plans offered by many companies to employees.  Membership fees to join AARP cost $63 for five years, $43 for three years and $16 for one year.

Associations have strict criteria to be eligible to join, but if you are in a field or trade that has an association that provides group health insurance, it can be a way to get better coverage.

Before you go out and join an association, McLean advises to make sure there’s more to joining than the health insurance. According to McLean, with some membership groups, health insurance is secondary for the group. Not to mention you’ll have to pay membership fees.

“Make sure you are getting coverage the way you want to,” she says.