How to Choose the Best Health Insurance

Arranging health insurance can be a minefield if you don’t take care choosing the right coverage. With so many policies out there, it can be confusing, because while some may cover some conditions, it doesn’t mean they all will. Picking health insurance that will cover you now, and for anything in the future is the key to getting the coverage you want. Here are a few tips on picking the right health insurance.

Where to Start Looking

Before you start to look for a place to get your health insurance, you should check to see if your employer already provides it. You might have to take a look at your contract or speak to your employer to make sure that they offer it. In most cases, the employers pay a portion of the workers premium, which makes it better for you. However, you should check what is covered by your workplace insurance, as your employer may have chosen a cheaper option. Just because your employer provides a health plan, it doesn’t mean that you cannot look for a plan yourself, though it will likely cost you more. If your employer doesn’t offer health insurance, then there are marketplaces available in every state where you can shop around to see which offer the best coverage. Your other option is to seek coverage from a private exchange or go directly to an insurer. The only issue is that they won’t be eligible for the income-based discounts that you get from the state policies.

Comparing Different Insurance Plans

When it comes to comparing the different plans that are available, it can be confusing. The most common types of plan are HMO, PPO, EPO or POS. In essence, these plans differ by the amount of out-of-pocket costs there are and also which doctors you can see. It is vital that you compare the benefits of each plan by looking on the summary page. There should also be a cost on the plan and a list of doctors and clinics that participate in the plan. The list of doctors and clinics is important because you want to be sure your local clinic will treat you if needed. If you are sticking with the plan provided by your employer, then you need to ask them for the details of the plan as well. In fact, it could be the difference between staying with the plan or choosing your own.

What’s the Difference Between Plans?

There are a few differences between each plan, so you need to look at each carefully to see what they offer. It also depends on what you are looking for in a plan, for example, HMO and POS require you to see a primary care physician before scheduling a procedure. Though some people don’t like this idea, these plans will also reduce the work on your end as the doctor’s staff will arrange appointments and complete the medical records. The EPO and PPO plans allow you to choose your own doctor which can be a benefit if you live in a large city, though it might also be good for rural areas where the choice is limited.

The Network of Doctors

With each plan will come a network of doctors that you are able to use under your plan. You want to try and find one that has as big a network as possible. That will give you more choice if you need medical help. If you already have a doctor that you want to keep seeing, then it is best to ask them what plans cover them. Then, you can select a plan that has them on the network.

What Do They Cover?

Probably one of the most important questions is what does your health insurance plan cover? It is worth thinking about your family’s health in detail, so you can be confident that you are choosing the right coverage. While you can never predict the future, there might be some conditions that you think may develop in the future, especially if they are hereditary. You might also want to add another coverage just in case of a terrible accident happening to you or your children. One such addition is insurance coverage for addiction, because if someone in your family becomes a victim of drug abuse, then you need to know that you have the coverage to give them the help they need. There are also other details that you may want to think about, for example, is your medication covered under the plan? Are you covered if you get sick while traveling abroad? It can also be a good idea to see what maternity services are covered if you are planning a family.

Check the Out-of-Pocket Costs

With any health insurance plan, there are certain percentages that you will have to pay out-of-pocket for the services you receive. The marketplaces in which you look for coverage, should offer a snapshot of these costs for you to look through. However, in basic terms, there are certain things such as deductible and copayments that make up your portion of costs you pay. There is a limit to how much out-of-pocket you spend each year, but the lower your premiums are, the more out-of-pocket costs you will need to pay. To work out which will be the better option for you, think about your general health up to this point for you and your family. If you have spent a lot of time in the hospital, or you are regularly taking a brand name medication, then you will be better off with a higher premium plan. If you are generally in good health, or if you cannot afford a lot of money, then you can choose a plan with a lower premium.

While comparing health insurance plans can be difficult, if you know what you want from the beginning, you are more likely to find the plan you want. Remember to check the details of the plan before you decide. 

Bio: Maggie Hammond is a retired nurse and freelance writer, exploring and writing in the U.S. in retirement. An advocate for public health and nursing qualifications, she feels passionate about raising awareness of the current strain on public health organizations.

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