Investing in Your Future: Affordable Health Insurance Plans

According to a recent study in the American Journal of Public Health, people without health insurance are about 40% more likely to die than those with health insurance. Add in the extremely high costs of doctor visits, hospital stays, and surgery especially, and affordable health insurance plans are vital to protecting your health and your bank account. But as with any purchase, you get what you pay for. It's extremely important to know that the right price is also providing quality coverage.

HMO Versus PPO

When you buy a health insurance policy yourself, this is the most basic choice: Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) versus Preferred Provider Options. Individual costs will vary according to where you live, but it's good to have a basic understanding of how these plans operate. An HMO requires you to choose a primary care physician and see doctors only within your network. Usually you'll just make a copayment, and have the added benefit of a doctor who knows your medical history. A PPO allows you to see almost any doctor and go to almost any hospital, though often your costs (copay) will be lower if you stay within a preferred network. There's more flexibility to this type of plan, especially if you need to see a specialist. Remember, you need to get the coverage that's right for you, even as you focus on affordable health insurance plans.

Group Versus Individual

Group coverage usually leads to more affordable health insurance plans than a policy for an individual. There are many reasons for this. Usually a group plan is influenced by average age of the group, whereas older people will find their age a detriment for an individual policy. In the same way, any adverse medical condition might weight against you when you search for quotes, but medical history isn't usually a factor for a group plan. And of course, when you buy a policy yourself, there's no employer to defray part of the premium. However, you do have a great deal of flexibility in searching for an individual policy, which means you can find affordable health insurance plans by comparing offers.

Keeping Costs Down

You can always increase your chances of finding affordable health insurance plans by making healthy choices like not smoking, or other habits that studies find will lead to certain diseases-just as a model of car with a history of rarely breaking down will probably cost less to insure. But for many of us, certain habits are hard to break, or we have a medical history we can't change. This is where you can get creative. If you find a plan that seems right except for the high deductible, then you should consider making regular investments into a health savings account. You won't be taxed on your contributions to the account, and the total will roll over each year. This way, you can build equity that allows you to proceed for a medical procedure whose deductible might have otherwise been too high. You may also want to regularly reassess your needs. Perhaps you change jobs, or quit smoking, or simply get older and decide certain conditions aren't as much of a concern for you anymore. This is an ideal time to shop around for a better premium. In fact, you can always do this if you're unhappy with your coverage. By using a service like, you can consider different options and quickly compare quotes for each kind of plan. You may also discover that you can save a few hundred dollars by combining your health insurance policy with another kind of policy, such as auto or home insurance. For quality health insurance at an affordable price, doing the homework actually lessens your chances of getting tested.