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2010 - 2013 Recommendations


Insurance broker for single mom

March 2012

I am a 54 year old single mom with 2 dependant kids (one in high school, one in college) wondering if there is a better affordable insurance plan for my family. Nobody has had any major illnesses, although my daughter had migraines for a brief period (its been 2+ years since an occurance) and I had some PT for my knee. Can anyone recommend an insurance broker or Kaiser agent to help me find an appropriate policy. I am afraid to apply elsewhere for fear of getting denied and having that blemish on our record. We currently have HealthNet PPO, which only allows for 2 covered visits annually. Also am curious about anyones opinion of Kaiser. Thanks!!! Insurance Intimidated


I used Marc Williams Insurance Services. I mostly worked with Natalie Glime a Brokers Assistant there. She was very helpful. Provided a number of options based on our needs and is ready and willing to help us appeal the 3rd tier rating we received do to some existing conditions. My friend, who works with health insurances, doing medical billing, recommended the company after working with Natalie. My sister also used her (at my recommendation) and was pleased with the assistance and end result. 5100 B-1 Clayton Rd. #362 Concord, CA 94521 Phone (925) 672-7257 Fax (925) 672-7263 CA License #0F23390 http://www.marcwilliamsinsurance.com I don't think there is any risk in getting a quote. Good luck. Selecting a health insurance plan is no fun. anonymous

Insurance being raised by 14.9% - need new plan

Aug 2011

My husband and I are self-employed and have HealthNet insurance, PPO. We just received a letter from them stating they are hiking our rates by 14.9% per month! And, our deductibles are already at $2500. We need to find another insurer....does anyone have experience with affordable, reliable health insurance, private pay? I am not sure how the insurance companies are allowed to do this, it seems barbaric to say the least. Any advice or recommendations greatly appreciated. Thank you! Anxiety about Health Insurance Making Me Sick


I'm assuming it's your health insurance that's being raised? My favorite insurance agent is John Baskett of John Baskett Insurance Services -- he is an insurance broker so can help you find the best and most reasonable company and plan for your needs. He is knowledgeable, on top of all the latest insurance regulations, and he has a hilarious sense of humor! He can be reached at 510-523- 0111; e-mail is johnbaskett@johnbaskett.com. Best of luck! mr
I am so sorry to hear about them raising your insurance rates. It is outrageous what is happening these days in the insurance industry. I know an amazing Insurance Solutions person. Her name is Lynn Caffrey and she has a vast knowledge of insurance for individuals and families. She works to find solutions and will give you options within your means. She often will give advice over the phone for free because she really loves helping people get insurance that they want. Here is her contact info: Lynn Caffrey 510-813-8244 or voicemail 510- 444-5447. Good luck. I hope she helps you. Jennifer
Contact Maria Barron at http://www.claimsplus.biz/ She is warm and an amazing consumer advocate for healthcare. She may be able to help you find something more affordable in this climate of greedy health insurance plans for profit. kaayla

Insurance Broker who knows about HSA's for small businesses

March 2011

I have already looked through the archives and called some of the brokers, but nobody has been able to help yet. My husband has his own business, and we pay a fortune for our individual health plan. We would like to work with an insurance broker who knows about HSAs, HRAs, and group plans for a small business. He currently operates as a sole proprietor, but we are willing to become a partnership or add me as an employee if we can get a group plan. When we brought up our situation to some brokers, they acted like we were speaking a different language. I would think that someone who works in insurance would know about basic insurance issues, but we got a lot of, ''well, I'm not sure about that'' and ''I'll have to research that''. I am hoping to find a broker who is familiar with very small companies and their insurance issues. We really just don't know how to navigate all of this. Please help!!


I am the Director of HR at a small law firm in San Francisco. We have been using the same insurance broker for many years now. They recently helped us change to a high deductible health insurance plan to help with cost and coverage of our employees. They are incredibly knowledgeable and helpful. The name of the firm is: Kosich & Callahan and they are located in Lafayette. Their phone number is (925) 284-5433. Good luck! Anon
I highly recommend Laura Lawrence. She gave me great advice a couple of years ago when I started a business and was very thorough in explaining requirements/options as well as presenting plans from multiple insurers. She specializes in health insurance for Individual/Family and Small Business. Laura Lawrence LG Lawrence Insurance Services 925-287-9222 Fax-925-287-0870
Call Sue Breedlove of Breedlove Insurance in Orinda. Her # is 925.254.6262. She specializes in small groups, hsa's and is very knowledgable about health insurance, etc. I think she would be a perfect match for what you are needing. Your husbands situation is just the kind of work she likes to be involved in. Her website is www.breedloveinsurance.com. anon
I've been self-employed since 2000 and my husband since 2004. We have used BCBS-CA and found an amazing rate through Spectrum Insurance & Financial, 4175 Sugar Pine Way, Livermore, CA 94551-6783. Brian Fitzpatrick is the agent that helped us. The phone number (from my old records) is 925- 447-9189. Back in 2005 we were only paying $350/month for a family of four with a $2500 deductible. We are in another state now and moving back to the Bay Area and will still use BCBS, but will need to re-apply for BCBS-CA. Some things that helped with our application process-keeping good records of our health exams and test results, no pre-existing conditions (I think this is the biggest factor), we keep copies of our annual blood results and annual exams (mammograms, etc.), younger (nearing 40 and early 40s). We opened up our own HSA through our bank (WF). Some individual insurance plans qualify for a HSA, others do not, so you'll want to find the plan that allows this. We don't have dental or vision insurance, but pay out of pocket twice a year for cleanings, which is all we've needed (so far!). My dentist says floss only the teeth you want to keep. Hope you find something that suits your needs. Good luck to you! Jodi

Health Insurance Help?

Jan 2011

I'm self-employed and need help finding a reasonable (if there is such a thing) individual health insurance plan. I don't even know if it's an agent or a broker I'm looking for. Anyone have any recommendations? Thanks! help!


Try HSA Bank, I think hsabank.com. I use them just for my HSA. This is useful because you need to track specifically for IRS compliance. Favorable overall, and good to have a nice tracking system as I had to use a year later with IRS notice. Bob
I've been self-employed for several years and have Anthem Blue Cross. It doesn't cover a whole lot, but it's affordable and for the basics, it works. Hope this helps

2007 - 2009 Recommendations


Need to change health insurance; pre-existing condition

June 2009

Hello everybody, we are planning for having a second child,but right now our insurance doesn't cover maternity, we have to change our insurance .last year my husband was diagonsed with diabetics and they say that we won't be accepted or changing insurance is not possible for us .any suggestions or does any body knows a health insurance agent who can help us through the process. thank you.


I recommend Bett Martinez for helping you change your insurance. I found her through some earlier reviews on BPN and am really happy with the work she just did for me and my partner (both self-employed). Maternity coverage was one of the concerns I had as well and she was very knowledgable about that issue. She helped me sort through the options and figure out what would be best for my situation. For my partner, who had previously been declined coverage, she helped determine what he needed to do to make his application stronger, and then saved the day when he was declined a second time and she found out that the insurance company had LOST the aforementioned doctor's letter and therefore had not taken it into consideration. She faxed it to them immediately and they reversed their decision within 24 hours. We never would have known what had gone wrong or how to fix it without having an advocate like Bett. I'm more of a DIY-type but I do think that getting insurance is a really confusing and difficult process and is one case in which it really pays off to work with an expert--her work on our behalf saved us countless hours of work and hundreds of dollars per month. Plus, the insurance company pays the broker's commission so it is free to you. As a bonus, she is delightful to talk with and extremely responsive. Bett Martinez, 510-526-0312, http://www.bettmartinezinsurancesolutions.com/ Deborah

Need to find lower cost health insurance

May 2009

Hello, Is there someone out there I can talk to about different health insurance options? Currently, my family has private health insurance through Blue Cross...it is outrageously expensive....I need to find lower cost insurance but am not sure how to go about making a choice... I am looking for a job to get health insurance through the job, but want to make a change before then...Who should I call to get help? Confused and Worried


Bett Martinez is very knowledgable on health insurance with many years of experience. Her phone is 510-526-0312. She is located in Albany. kathryn l
Had the same plan as you for years, then I found out Costco has health insurance plans now for California members. The trick is, if you have a lot of questions, they will refer you to their insurance broker, CBC. Even if you can't get a regular discount plan with Costco, CBC is a great insurance broker who might be able to get you into a ''normal'' plan. Biggest tip: DO NOT apply for insurance unless you are sure you'll get approved! ONCE you get declined by even one company, it's much more likely the others will find out and you'll get declined by them all. DEFinitely find an insurance broker - they get paid a commission from the health insurance companies so you shouldn't have to pay them. The one I used is www.cbcvip.com - good luck! Debbie L.
Hi, I highly recommend Steve @ SF Health Ins Marketing. His office is in Marin county, but he works all over the Bay Area. He will visit you if needed. His phone number: 415-492-0130 Sonali
Hi - Health insurance can be so confusing! We had to go through the same maze you're facing and it feels overwhelming. A good source for independent research is ehealthinsurance.com. They show rates, options and you can compare plans side by side. You can sort by premium, deductible, company, etc.

You can buy directly from them. I found I still needed help getting it all sorted out because its overwhelming. Plus we had existing health issues that I needed assistance in underwriting.

We worked with Julie Asti who is a Certified Financial Planner that also has a health insurance license. She doesn't charge anything as she's compensated by the insurance company. She was fair, objective and honest. She worked with the company to solve 'issues' we had along the way.

Good luck - it's confusing! Rachel H.


i have worked with carman insurance in the past. they are a broker for several companies and are very nice and helpful and helped me to figure out my best choice for my situation. the work form a lovely home office in north berkeley or you can just call them too 510.528.6773 or www.carmaninsurance.com the service is free! worked for me
I recommend Elona Pertica to resolve health plan questions. She is great; bright and helpful. Gives good advice and knows her stuff. Has an MBA was in finance and started her own consulting company about 8 years ago. My husband used her for his small business and she has helped us with our personal plans over the years. e.pertica@comcast.net Good luck Pamela
I'd contact a broker and I'm sorry I don't have a number to give you, but hope someone else can chime in here. If you have a pre-existing condition, you might have to go with Kaiser. I have BCBS (self-employed) and pay less than $500/month for a family of 4 (couple, late 30's and two young children). It even includes maternity, which is good because my last two births were billed in the six figures. My premium is ''high'', but the deductible is $2500 per family although they chip in 80% of everything anyways. I think their prices vary, so it's best to find a broker to advocate for you. Good luck. anon
Had the same plan as you for years, then I found out Costco has health insurance plans now for California members. The trick is, if you have a lot of questions, they will refer you to their insurance broker, CBC. Even if you can't get a regular discount plan with Costco, CBC is a great insurance broker who might be able to get you into a ''normal'' plan. Biggest tip: DO NOT apply for insurance unless you are sure you'll get approved! ONCE you get declined by even one company, it's much more likely the others will find out and you'll get declined by them all. DEFinitely find an insurance broker - they get paid a commission from the health insurance companies so you shouldn't have to pay them. The one I used is www.cbcvip.com - good luck! Debbie L.
Bett Martinez is very knowledgable on health insurance with many years of experience. Her phone is 510-526-0312. She is located in Albany. kathryn
When my husband was laid off in January, we used ehealthinsurance.com to find our health insurance. You type in your basic info, and they give you several hundred results (which you can then narrow by doctor, or hospital, or price). For a family of 4 we are paying $230.00 a month, no maternity (which lowers the monthly cost), deductible of $8000 per year for the whole family, and have a health savings account. It's still expensive with the deductible, but it's better than nothing, and what we pay is the same the insurance allows (which is sometimes half of what the hospital/md/etc charge.). hate the health care situation

Leaving my job, need help navigating health insurance options

May 2008

I am leaving my job, which has provided excellent group health insurance for me and my family, and I need a good insurance broker to help me find a new plan. Both my husband and I will be self-employeed. The recommendations in the archives are a few years old. Can anyone recommend someone to help me navigate the health insurance maze? Don't want to do Cobra


Carla-Jean Barker is a wonderful broker--warm, knowledgeable, patient, great at explaining even the most complex plans. She helped us so much with health insurance that we also turned to her for long-term care insurance--another great experience. We can't recommend her highly enough! Carla-Jean Barker CJB Consulting, Inc. cjb@cjbconsulting.net 800.608.7278 www.cjbconsulting.net --Very pleased CJB clients
Call Sue Breedlove at Breedlove Insurance. Her # is 925.254.6262 or e-mail her at sue@breedloveinsurance.com. Sue specializes in helping self-employed people and small businesses. She is very thorough and great at researching and explaining all your options. She's honest and tries to get you the best program to fit your needs. Marika
I've recommended her here before, but we love the work Carol Nickovich (www.nickovich.com) has done for us. Friendly, knowledgeable, responsive, understands your bottom line. Happy Customer
I just recently got my health insurance questions answered by Pat Burns (www.burnsemployeebenefits.com) and applied for the insurance that best met my needs. I found Pat responsive, knowledgeable, personable and thorough. What I'd anticipated to be a ''painful'' process because of all the choices turned out to be easy and ''painfree''. Rosie

2004 - 2006 Recommendations


Considering becoming a self-insured consultant, need advice

Oct 2006

I am thinking about moving to consulting from a full time job with benefits- but currently I am providing the benefits for my husband and 2 kids. Looking for recent experience with private health insurance, and/or Kaiser facilities convenient to the Berkeley area. Any recommendations on where to go for help choosing between plans? Any experience on what seems to be the fashion of lower premium, higher co-pay or out of pocket expenses? Looking to make a change.....


I would suggest that you speak to Jean Sturges, 510-845-6688. She is a health insurance broker. It does not cost anything to use a broker. They get paid by the insurance carrier. I know many people she has helped Julie P
I definately recommend going through a broker. Your premium will be the same and they can help you sort through what the best plan for you will be and how to go through the application process. They will also be your advocate should any questions arise. I think Bett Martinez is very good. She can be reached at well-being at pacbell.net or at 510-526-0312 Ilana T
In regards to the recommendation for Jean Sturges as a health insurance broker: I too found a recommendation to her on BPN when I was searching for new insurance for my family, I am a new stay at home mom. I found her to be less than helpful. She told me that she could not meet anytime in the near future because she was busy with her family from out of town. This is understandable of course but the way she communicated it was snippy and made me feel that my concerns about securing a health plan were not valid. I was eager to take care of my insurance policy and when I told her this she scolded me for not returning her phone call earlier!! I had a newborn at home and my delay in not returning her call was not more than two days. Needless to say, I choose another person to adovocate for my family and have been very happy. His name is Tom Fleming anon
I highly recommend my health insurance broker, Pat Meyer. She has helped me set up insurance plans for a small business, as well as helped me get the best personal health insurance plan after leaving a company. She is knowledgeable, helpful, persistent, and has a great sense of humor (which can be very helpful when trying to work with insurance companies!). There's one catch -- she relocated from Emeryville to the Napa area a few years ago, so if you're looking to deal with someone in person, she's probably not for you. But she's very responsive to phone calls and emails. You can reach her at 707.928.5200, or at patmeyer at mchsi.com Jessica C

Self-employed, need help finding health care

August 2006

I've checked the archives and don't see any recent listings for insurance agents who can help us with our healthcare woes. We are self-employed and have either gone without or just used Kaiser for the last several years. I'd like to change from Kaiser but don't know where to begin! We really need someone who can sit down and explain our options to us before we choose a plan.


In response to your request for someone to help you understand and buy health insurance, I would like to recommend Dan Peven. My wife and I, also both self-employed, just moved to Berkeley from New York last May and Dan was very helpful getting us our new policy. While Dan IS and insurance agent (yikes!) he's also rather human and had the desire and patience to explain everything to us...often more than once. (The options here are quite different than NY.) His contact info is: Dan Peven, The Pension & Benefits Co., Inc. 610 16th Street, Suite 504 Oakland, CA 94612 510 268-3586 Fax: 510 268-3587 dan at benefitarts.com
Matthew K
i think maria poroy at access benenfits group is just fantastic. i am self-employed as well and she explains everything. there is alot of personal attention and attention to detail- i have referred many people to her company and all of them have been very happy- 415 986 7726 www.accessbenefitsgroup.com
helaines
Jean Sturges Health Insurance Services 510-845-6688. She has helped several people I know navigate through the health care insurance maze. She can work with individuals and small businesses. She usually ends up saving them money while making the process painless Julie P
I can recommend Diane Sickman, who lives in Oakland Hills and whose office is in San Rafael. Diane Sickman, Allstate, 532 4th St., San Rafael, CA 94901 Phone number: 415-453-4300. She is helping a few of my entrepreneur women friends with health insurance as well as other insurance matters, and they are very happy with her assistance. Diane is a former teacher so she has the skill to explain things clearly, is very smart, has staff so never a voice mail maze and she is very kind. I feel confident you will like her. Please tell her I suggested you call her. Louise G
Here's a free resource (step-by-step) that will help you understand and finding affordable, low cost and even free health insurance. http://www.healthinsurance-help.com/affordable-health-insurance.html The Web site has sections for people who are unemployed or recently laid off, self-employed, and pregnant women who can't find insurance. There's also a Free Health Insurance Quotes section that provides you access to health insurance agents or get insurance quotes online. Hope this helps. Ann

Need help reducing our monthly health insurance bill

June 2006

My husband and I are paying $1000+ for health insurance for our family (2kids), and we would like to switch to a different plan where we pay less per month, but have a higher deductibe, and maybe even pay more of a co-pay. I'm just really skeptical of a lot of plans, and want to make sure that my family is covered with all expenses (less the deductible) should there be an illness or an emergency (hospitalization, surgery, etc...) I'm so confused about the different plans, quotes, etc..., that I thought maybe I can get some recommendations from this group. We currently have Blue Cross HMO without Dental, and belong to the Brown & Toland Medical Group (we live in S.F.) Any recommendation for health ins. plans and/or Independent insurance brokers would be greatly appreciated. I checked out the website but the latest recomm. is from 2003. Thank you! Health Insurance illiterate!


We are working with a broker now to fix the same type of problem (outrageous fees/high deductable). So far, we like her and she has done a lot of research for us to best suit our needs. We're looking at a new type of plan that has a low monthly pmt (well, I not EXACTLY low, but lower than we are paying now) and no deductable. You just pay a % of fees rather than a co-pay (except for regular office visits, which would be a small co- pay). It sounds good so far. Since we're still in the process, I can't tell you yet if it is great and how she is completely, but you can always give her a call and see what you think. Her info is: Christine Anderson Anderson & Company Insurance Services 985 Rolling Woods Way Concord, CA 94521-5420
Good Luck!
I just posted above for another insurance question, but in case you don't get to that one...here is our situation...we pay $350/month for a family of 4 (34, 36, 3, 1) with BCBS PPO 2500. They cover maternity (max $2500 out of pocket), and 70% of well visits including vaccinations, etc. We had no pre-existing conditions, etc, so I feel this is reasonable, but Kaiser is less expensive. Check out the website for BCBS, we went through a broker named Brian Fitzgerald and are in the process of moving now and I'm unable to find his number. I think he is with Spectrum in Concord or somewhere else east of the tunnel. Good luck Jodi
When I lost my health insurance last year after reducing my hours at work, I joined an organization. I am licensced Professional Engineer and hence joined their org. Through them, we have health insurance (Health Net HMO). The broker is RL Wells and Associates (800-568-4500). They are based in the central valley and are great. My daughter's health insurance is not through the org (Blue Shield PPO). They have also helped us get life insurance karenm

My group plan is ending, need an individual plan

Dec 2005

Can anyone recommend a good health insurance broker? I am looking for an individual plan for myself and my daughter since I was recently informed that my group plan ends as of January 31. I'm looking for someone who can tell me what my options are and guide me through the application process (a step beyond ehealthinsurance.com, etc). Thanks! AS


Keith Vaisnor of KEV Insurance gets rave reviews about his ability to provide health insurance to almost anyone! (925)299- 8726. He has a terrific website as well, KEV-insurance.com. Very personable, has small children himself. Julie G

Need someone to help me compare plans

March 2005

I need to get individual health insurance, and I'm not having much luck sorting things out online. I understand that working with an agent might help me find a better deal. I've heard that Blue Shield has the best rates for individuals, but I'd also be interested in working with someone who represents multiple companies in order to compare plans. Caroline


If you need health insurance, you couldn't do any better than Daun Pullem. She's self-employed herself, so she can understand all manner of needs. You can reach her at 559-994-6101. (Don't be put off by the distant area code - she can come up here anytime.) Honest, ethical, and hardworking . . . plus an awesome sense of humour! Kathleen
We recently worked with Carol Nickovich (http://www.nickovich.com) to set up health insurance for our small (3 people) business, but I know she handles individual plans, too. She was great - very good at laying out the options and liaising with Blue Shield during our application process to make sure all the i's were dotted, as it were. She works with several major providers (Aetna, Blue Shield, HealthNet, etc.) JP
I can highly recommend Edith Price. She is very customer service oriented and has a vast knowledge of insurance. I got my individual health plan through her as did a number of friends of mine. She also takes care of the insurance for my brother's business. All have reported back with positive feedback. Edith Price ejprice at msn.com 925-930-9449 Regards, sandy
Happy to recommmend independent insurance broker Bett Martinez. She's very informed --- been doing this for many years. You can contact her at well-being at pacbell.net. Susan F

We are self-employed and want to shop around for health insurance

Jan 2005

My husband & I are self-employed and want to shop around for good health insurance through an insurance broker - can anyone recommend a good one? diane


We just used broker Carol Nickovich to set up group insurance for our 3-person company and I would highly recommend her. She handles individual plans as well. She was patient, thorough and good at explaining things and suggesting options. She's based in San Ramon, but had no problem meeting with us in/near our Oakland office. www.nickovich.com for more info. JP
Instead of buying an expensive health insurance policy, have you considered a Health Savings Account? If you and your husband are self-employed, you probably qualify for one. A Health Savings Account is like a ''health care IRA'' in that all deposits are pre-tax or tax deferred dollars. You can pay for all qualified medical expenses from your HSA. including chiropractic care, massage therapy, nutritional supplements, and even yoga classes. Check out www.naturalhealthhsa.com for great information about what HSA's are and how they work, or call Carole Rogers after you've looked at the website. I wish I qualified! Lynn F., RN
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