Selecting the right health insurance plan is difficult. The goal is to get the best coverage for a price that fits your budget. Here are several tips you can use to compare health insurance plans and to choose the policy that is right for your family:
Compare Out-of-Pocket Expenses
Let’s face it—health insurance plans can be expensive. In addition to paying a premium, every health insurance plan will have additional expenses that you are obligated to pay. These may differ between services or apply universally to your coverage.
When comparing health insurance plans, pay close attention to these words: deductible, co-payment and coinsurance. These terms tell you exactly how much you will pay before your insurance coverage does. If you agree to take on a greater out-of-pocket expense, you may get a lower premium. However, you should never voluntarily take on higher out-of-pocket expenses than you can afford.
Compare Coverage and Services
In addition to differences in out-of-pocket expenses, health insurance plans differ in coverage. For example, one plan may exclude coverage for pre-existing medical conditions for the first 12 months of the policy term. Another may require only nine months before treatment for the condition is covered.
Some plans may include limitations for certain services that are fully covered by another, such as preventative care or out-of-network physician visits. Comparing these limits will help you get beyond the premium to determine which plan is better.
Some plans may include coverage for services considered essential to your family, such as dental or vision care. Some policyholders receive coverage for such expenses elsewhere and may not want it covered by their health insurance plan. In this case, consult your agent or provider about tailoring the coverage to your family’s needs—you may save a few bucks!
Remember that many health insurance plans include a network of providers from which you must seek services. Getting services from an out-of-network provider usually will result in greater out-of-pocket expenses. If you have a physician you want to continue seeing, compare provider networks to ensure your physician is included.
Before placing the health care needs of your family in the hands of a health insurance plan, make sure the company is capable of delivering the services you expect. Talk to friends, family, doctors and anyone else who has experience with the company to get his or her opinion. Contact your state insurance department to get information about the company’s financial strength. In addition, the insurance department will have databases of complaints and other issues involving insurance companies that may lead you to consider other health plans. It’s always better to discover this information before you make your choice, and definitely before a claim!
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