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Understanding Health Insurance Plans
10 tips for buying health insurance
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10 Tips for Buying Health Insurance

Your health is your most valuable asset. In fact, your life depends on it! That’s why it’s important to choose health insurance coverage with the benefits and options you need, while keeping your budget intact.

Some Things to Consider

If you’re shopping around for the right health insurance plan, you should consider several factors beforehand, including:

  • Premiums—the monthly or yearly cost of your health insurance plan
  • Deductibles—the amounts you pay before your insurance starts paying
  • Co-pays—fees you pay for office visits or specific treatments

But don’t think about price alone. Consider present and possible future medical needs you may face and their importance to your health. For instance, if you or a family member have a chronic illness, you’ll want to make sure the plan you choose covers treatments and medications unique to that condition.

If you love your family doctor and wouldn’t think of switching, check plan details to see if your physician participates in a particular health insurance plan. If the plan you’re considering is too limited, you may want to ditch it in favor of something with more options.

Tips for Choosing a Health Plan

Now that you’re thinking and planning ahead, use the following 10 tips to find the right health plan for your needs.

1. Prioritize your needs

Because health insurance is one of the more crucial investments you can make in yourself, it should be at the top of your priority list when it comes to expenditures.

But you may not be able to afford all the coverages you want. So instead of saving money for that new car, put those extra monies toward health insurance. Then decide what and how much coverage you need, whether major medical with a wide range of coverage or a cheaper, more limited plan.

You’ll need to examine your finances at this point to determine how much you can afford—but make concessions only when absolutely necessary. Keep in mind that if you end up in a horrible accident (or with a serious illness) overnight, your family’s finances could easily be devastated without enough or the right kind of health insurance.

2. Know the lingo

Finding the right health insurance plan means knowing the lingo and understanding your coverage options right up front.

So before shopping your rates, take the bull by the horns and get educated! Read up on health insurance terms, discover the differences between policy types, and go into your health insurance purchase with your eyes wide open. If there’s something you don’t understand, check it out online or run it by a licensed insurance agent. That’s why they’re there: to explain your options and offer advice.

Getting informed makes comparison shopping much easier—and a wise decision much more likely.

3. Take advantage of employer-sponsored group policies

Your paycheck shouldn’t be the only thing you consider when job hunting. Group health insurance with highly discounted health care rates is an important part of the benefits package offered by many employers today. The coverage offered by these plans is considerably less expensive than individual health insurance and usually more comprehensive.

Before you shop for an individual health plan, first make sure your employer doesn’t offer group health insurance. It could save you a considerable sum of money! And if you’re job hunting, look for a career in a place with group health benefits. You’ll stay healthier over the long term.

4. Prepare for the worst

Tragically, many Americans find themselves financially unprepared when facing medical emergencies and disasters. But by preparing for the unexpected now, you won’t have to worry whether you can get necessary treatment later—when your life may depend on it.

Don’t put yourself in danger, physically or financially. Get the right health coverage now, while you’re still able to. That way, you or a family member won’t have to worry about mounting medical bills or financial pressure getting the best of you some day down the road—and besides, it may just save your life!

5. Ask for a high deductible

The higher your deductible, the lower your monthly insurance premiums and co-pays.

Why? Because when you’re willing to take more financial risk on your own, your insurer can take less—and pass those savings along to you. 

It’s true: higher deductibles can save you a load of money without a sacrifice of benefits. So when you find a plan you’re comfortable with, ask your insurer for price quotes including several different deductibles. Then compare those quotes with your finances and budget. If you can afford higher-than-average deductibles, go for it! You’ll be glad you did, come time bill paying time.

6. Consider flexibility

While many cheaper plans offer broader coverage—like HMOs, for example—they may not be the best buy if they aren’t flexible enough to meet your needs. Being able to choose the doctors you like most and the best hospitals close to home may, in the end, prove more important than overall price.

Other flexibility factors you may want to examine as you’re comparing plans include:

  • The ability to refer yourself to the specialist of your choice
  • The option to seek emergency care, when needed, at the nearest hospital
  • The choice to choose name brand drugs over generic

7. Comparison shop

Just as you’d compare prices on new shoes or a new car to get the best deal, the same principle applies to health insurance. So don’t just accept the first policy you’re offered; get several policy offerings and price quotes first.

Don’t be afraid to let insurers know you’re comparing quotes and policies. Once they know you’re serious about buying, they’re more likely to offer you their lowest rates!

The Web offers a wealth of information about health insurance and the insurers that offer it. Use this valuable resource to look up company histories and financial liquidity, as well as get free health insurance quotes.

8. Know your rights under the law

Make sure your insurer is state licensed. You can get this information from your state department of insurance or an independent rating agency like A.M. Best.

If you need help settling a dispute with your insurer, your state insurance department can handle your complaint and help make sure your issues are resolved quickly and professionally.

If your health insurance company non-renews or cancels your new policy, request a reason in writing—along with a partial or complete refund of the unspent premium.  

9. Keep tabs on your health insurance policy

Don’t just sign up for a health plan and then forget about it. Adjust your plan specifics as your life changes, and make sure you’re getting all the benefits you’re entitled to.

These life changes provide the perfect opportunity to examine your health care coverage:

  • Getting married
  • Having children
  • Moving to a new city or community
  • Changing jobs

10. Learn about Medicare benefits (if you’re over 65)

Medicare was designed to help supplement the health care expenses of older Americans. So if you’re over 65, learn about Medicare and what it can do for you. The government establishes new benefits for seniors all the time, so taking advantage of this resource when health care prices are at a prime just makes sense.

Protect Your Health

Protect your life and health with a health insurance plan that meets your needs. With these tips for buying health insurance working in your favor, you simply can’t go wrong.

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Carriers Represented by Agents in our Network:
  • Allstate
  • Farmers
  • MetLife
  • American Family
  • Nationwide
  • United American
  • and many more ...