How to Shop Around for Health Insurance

How to Shop Around for Health Insurance

While shopping around for health insurance hardly seems stimulating, you must take the time to research your options and know your medical needs before signing anything.

Knowing your medical needs and options are two ways you can find the best and most affordable health insurance plan for you and even your loved ones. 

Know what you need

Before you even begin your health insurance plan search, you need to write down a concrete list of what you are hoping for from your plan.

In addition, you need to know your medical conditions, your medical history, your prescription needs, and any other relevant health-related information. This can help you be more decisive when comparing the different options you have. 

If you are someone with health conditions, you want to ensure that the health insurance plan you choose will cover your expenses. For example, if you need medications, the plan you choose should help you cover those.

Health is unpredictable, and if something were to happen to you, you’d want to ensure your plan covers those incidentals. 

Know what you want

When shopping for health insurance, you also want to consider the potential situations you might find yourself in and how you would like your health care to function in those scenarios.

  • For example, you want to ensure coverage for diagnostic procedures should you get into an accident or get injured. 

Similarly, if you are thinking about starting a family, you may want to weigh your options regarding getting care before, during, and after pregnancy. 

Know the different health insurance categories mean

Health insurance can be classified into four categories based on the type of coverage it gives you, how much you pay for medical expenses, and other vital details. These categories are bronze, silver, gold, and platinum

As can be expected, the higher the tier you choose, the more premiums you pay. Thus, the more coverage you get, the less you must pay out-of-pocket.

Therefore, it’s best to choose which tier you are interested in once you have your list of needs and wants for your ideal health insurance

Know about what you’re paying for

It helps if you understand what goes into what you’d be paying for in your health insurance coverage before signing on the dotted line.

Additionally, it would be beneficial if you got a thorough breakdown of what goes into the price you are expected to pay each month for your health insurance, as well as any other costs you might incur. 

Of course, you will have your premium, primarily determined by what type of health insurance you choose.

You also want to consider if you will have to copay for any medical expenses, such as seeing your doctor for your yearly check-up, getting an ultrasound or blood work, or a dispensing fee at your pharmacist. 

It’s also good to know what your deductible could look like. Again, this is crucial to understand thoroughly before making your insurance choice. This is what your health insurance will cover for you regarding significant medical expenses or unforeseen expenses that could come up. 

It’s grim to think about, but you need to have a clear picture of what you can expect from your potential insurance, so you aren’t hit with tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills. Instead, you’ve been shelling out hundreds of dollars each month for insurance that ultimately doesn’t benefit you at all. 

Know what short-term plans are

Insurance laws became a little stricter in 2014 to ensure that insurance companies are no longer allowed to deny claims just because of health conditions that existed before coverage.

However, there are some ways insurance companies can get around this, using short-term insurance plans. 

Be wary of these plans if you have pre-existing conditions and want to be covered if you have a future medical need.

These short-term plans usually only cover the bare minimum of potential health expenses. In addition, they try to entice you with lower fees than other plans. 

While it feels like you’re getting a bargain because you’re paying less each month, you can end up paying for it in the long run when you need to use your insurance for something.

When that happens, you must pay much more out-of-pocket all at once. 

Take your time shopping around

While it might seem like the options for health insurance plans are endless, you can narrow them down a bit based on where you live and have a clear idea of what you want.

Checking out the database will allow you to sift through a curated database of health insurance plans to consider. 

Furthermore, give any health insurance firm or broker you are interested in a call and let them know what you are looking for.

Let them know what you cannot budge on and what you can be flexible with. Then, you should ask for a quote, write it down, and continue calling other places you’re interested in using. 

It would be best if you let yourself sit with the information so you can review it thoroughly and do any additional research needed before deciding. 

Know what questions to ask

If you live with a pre-existing health condition, be sure to ask very clearly if your condition is covered. Be sure that the agent you are working with shows you in writing where it is guaranteed you will be covered. 

Unfortunately, too many agents will lie about this essential aspect of health insurance, leaving you to fend for yourself when the papers are signed, and the money has already been paid. 

You should also ask your insurance agent if their firm is ACA-compliant. If they don’t want to answer this directly, you don’t want to work with them.  If they say yes, ask them to show you some proof. 

Final thoughts

Choosing a health insurance plan is no easy feat, and the decision-making process should not be approached lightly. Just because something seems like a good deal, it doesn’t mean that it is. The most expensive plan may also not be the best plan to cover everything. 

Until there is a different option other than health insurance, your best bet is to ensure your budget allows you to purchase the appropriate plan for you because your health is worth it.

Image by: [fernando zhiminaicela]