The Internet has opened many possibilities – and today is possible to conveniently do many things online, like purchasing health insurance, which would have required quite a bit or running around (getting quotes and all) before the advent of online shopping and price comparison. Like all relatively new things however, purchasing health insurance online has had its fair share of criticism – with many people feeling that they did not get exactly what was promised.

This has left many people with the burning question of whether to buy their health insurance online or through the traditional method, that is, through an agent. There is, however, no clear cut answer to this question, as either proposition (buying health insurance online or buying it through an agent) has its own upside and downside.

The Advantages of Buying Insurance Online
The main advantage of buying your health insurance online lies in the fact that the Internet is the world’s largest free market – offering a huge array of products and increasing the chances of finding the best deal for your needs. The Internet opens up a wide array of companies offering health insurance products, and gives you a (convenient) way of comparing what they have to offer. This is unlike what you would get from an agent – who typically works for a given company (or a given group of companies).

Another advantage of buying health insurance online lies in the fact that the Internet is home to various forums where you can find independent opinions from people who have previously used the products of various health insurance providers and hear about their experiences first-hand.

The Disadvantages of Buying Insurance Online
The downside of buying health insurance online lies in its depersonalized nature. As it were, purchasing health insurance is not a very straightforward undertaking. It is an undertaking with many nuances and there are various aspects of any given health insurance plan that require personal elaboration – in the way that an insurance agent usually does – and this is hard to achieve online. To be sure, many companies offering health insurance online have always had great (and toll free) help lines and many are introducing real time online chat, but it never quite beats a one-on-one chat with an agent who can really explain what you get, and whom you can hold personally accountable for their word.

Buying Through an Agent Vs. Buying Online
Turning to buying health insurance through an agent, the upside to it is the personalized advice one stands to get from an insurance agent – and which one can rarely get through online shopping. Such personalized ‘service’ might not appear to be much, until you see the complexity of health insurance plans (and the catches they come with) and until you hear the complaints of people who claim that they did not get what they were promised from health insurance plans they purchased online.

The downside to buying health insurance through an agent lies in the fact that the agents are usually out to promote certain interests, like the interests of the insurance company they work for, or the insurance companies whose products they independently sell. This means that they are likely to steer you away from other (possibly better) products – towards the products they are promoting. It also means that by opting to buy your health insurance from an agent rather than buying online, you are (in most cases) limiting your options to the products the agent has to offer.