Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Written by Chelsey Tucker
Insurance Expert Chelsey Tucker

Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com.

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: May 11, 2022

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The lowdown...

  • Voluntary health insurance is insurance coverage that offers specific voluntary enrollment options to members of certain companies, groups, and organizations
  • Voluntary health insurance policies range from workplace group insurance plans to community-based insurance
  • Common types of voluntary insurance include life insurance, dental coverage, disability insurance, and vision option

If you have a full-time job, you may have the option to participate in your employer’s benefits plan. Some companies offer their full-time employees dental, vision, and other insurance options. These types of group insurance options are examples of voluntary health insurance.

Voluntary health insurance is a type of health insurance available to specific groups of people. The most common example of voluntary health insurance is one that an employer offers, but there are other opportunities to participate in a voluntary health insurance program throughout the U.S.

Read on to learn more about health insurance below and make sure to compare rates with our free quote above! 

What is voluntary health insurance?

Voluntary health insurance (VHI) plans are group health insurance plans provided to members of specific companies, businesses, or organizations. Voluntary insurance means that individuals — usually employees — can enroll in a health insurance plan at rates significantly lower than what they would pay for an individual health insurance plan.

Voluntary health plans frequently allow employers to offer a broader range of coverage options without paying much more. 

Voluntary health insurance is also a benefit to many employers as it allows companies to pay less in taxes. For example, since most premiums for VHI plans are automatically deducted from an employee’s payroll before taxes, employers pay less in overall payroll taxes.

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What types of voluntary health insurance are there?

Voluntary health insurance is separate from major health insurance with which most people are initially concerned. Since standard health insurance options only cover so much, VHI is a great way to boost your health insurance coverage to protect you and your family members from harm.

Some of the most common examples of voluntary health insurance options include:

  • Vision
  • Dental
  • Accident
  • Life
  • Critical illness
  • Cancer
  • Hospital
  • Disability
  • Fixed indemnity

Of the VHI options listed above, vision and dental coverage are the only two that deal with receiving specific medical care. In contrast, the other coverages provide money to the insured individual to help supplement the costs of dealing with an injury or illness.

As the name suggests, voluntary health insurance is not required. Instead, employees or group members can enroll in voluntary plans depending on their personal needs and circumstances. 

While some individuals may choose to only enroll in the primary health insurance coverage option offered by a company or group, others might choose one or more voluntary options for additional protection. 

Where can I get voluntary health insurance?

The most unfortunate thing about voluntary health insurance is that not everyone can take advantage of it. For example, if you do not have a full-time job with a company offering it or are not a member of a particular group, you may not have the option of enrolling in a voluntary health insurance plan. 

Outside of an employer-based voluntary health insurance plan, some examples of groups that offer VHI plans include:

  • AARP
  • Affiliated Workers Association
  • Writers Guild of America
  • Association for Computing Machinery
  • Freelancers Union
  • Local unions, alumni groups, or professional associations

You may be a member of a group or association that offers voluntary health insurance. If you are, the first step is to speak to someone in leadership to learn whether you qualify for coverage.

If you are interested in joining a voluntary health insurance plan but are not sure where to start, your best bet is to consider what you do for work or hobbies and go from there. You may be able to join a group, union, or association that offers VHI after you are a member for a certain length of time. 

What’s the difference between voluntary and individual health insurance?

Unlike voluntary health insurance, individual health insurance is a type of plan you purchase independently and unaffiliated with any group. Among other things, individual health insurance plans are often much more expensive than health insurance options offered by employers.

Standard individual health insurance options often include:

  • Health coverage
  • Vision
  • Dental
  • Disability
  • Life

Coverages between voluntary and individual health insurance plans may offer similar benefits, but they differ in critical ways. For example, while voluntary health insurance offer group members a significant discount on coverage, individual health plans do not have this option. 

Additionally, many people who purchase individual health insurance plans do not have the option to purchase certain coverages typically included in voluntary plans, like cancer or fixed indemnity coverage.

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How can I get voluntary health insurance through my employer?

If you have a full-time job, you may have the option of receiving health insurance benefits through your employer. 

The time frame in which you can join a health insurance plan differs from one employer to another. Some will allow you to join the company’s group health insurance plan reasonably quickly, while others require that you work a minimum of 90 days before enrolling. 

If your employer offers voluntary health insurance options, you will enroll in these options when you enroll in the company’s primary health insurance plan. During the enrollment period, you can pick the coverages you’re interested in and learn more about the cost of adding these coverages to your benefits package.

Once you’ve enrolled in your health insurance plan through your employer, you will have to wait until your company’s open enrollment period to make any changes to your plan. However, in some cases, you may be able to change your plan if you experience a significant life event, such as getting married, getting divorced, or having a child.

How much is voluntary health insurance?

The cost of voluntary health insurance varies from one employer or group to the next. Your cost will also depend on the coverages you choose to include in your benefits package. 

The most expensive aspect of any benefits package is the major health insurance plan. Group health insurance for individuals can cost thousands of dollars a year. And health insurance plans cost more for families than for individuals.

If you are part of a group health insurance plan, your employer or group may pay a large percentage of your health insurance premium. So your cost could be less than $2,000 a year for an individual plan or less than $5,000 annually for a family plan.

Voluntary benefits, such as vision and dental, cost an additional amount per month. But coverage for these is often relatively inexpensive.

Before you sign up, your employer should be able to tell you how much you will pay per month for your voluntary health insurance coverage. Keep in mind that voluntary health insurance options are available at a discounted rate. So if you know you need dental or vision insurance, you will want to take advantage of a VHI plan if at all possible. 

Voluntary Health Insurance: The Bottom Line

Voluntary health insurance plans are an excellent option for individuals who work full-time for certain employers. Options for VHI coverage include dental, vision, life, accident, cancer, and many other types of insurance.

If you do not work full time but want to participate in a voluntary health insurance plan, you may be able to join a group, union, or association that offers VHI benefits. 

The cost for voluntary health insurance coverages is often quite reasonable. You should be able to add voluntary health coverages to your employee benefits package for just a few more dollars a month.

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