A Checklist for Selecting a Health Insurance Plan
Buying health insurance is a complicated process for many reasons. With so many options available, how you determine which one is right for you? Which companies are reliable? What does a certain plan cover? Could you get a better price? To help your decision-making process, we put together a checklist of what to consider:
- Some products, such as pharmacy discount cards, seem like comprehensive coverage, but aren’t actually insurance. Make sure you are looking at plans offering comprehensive coverage.
- Check agencies such as Standard and Poor’s or Moody’s to see how they rate an insurer’s ability to pay claims.
- The exact amount you’ll need to cover future medical costs is unknowable, because no one can predict the future. However, do your best to balance monthly costs with the amount of protection a plan provides. Most likely a cheap policy will not offer the same coverage as a more expensive one and may cost you more in the long run.
- Avoid policies that lack a maximum out-of-pocket limit on covered charges.
- Confirm that the plan that you choose covers the healthcare services and medications you need.
- If you want to keep your current doctors, make sure they are included in the policy’s network. If you don’t want to keep your doctors, you should still research to see if the in-network healthcare providers have a good reputation and are located near you.
- Once you select a plan, examine the fine print to check that your premiums won’t increase for 12 months.
How to Save on Health Insurance with the Affordable Care Act
Health insurance can be expensive, but the Affordable Care Act (ACA) offers several ways to save money without losing coverage.
- The ACA gives subsidies to households that are within certain income ranges. Subsidies are based on how the number of people in the household compares to their total income. The form on this website asks for both of these numbers.
- If you are under 30 years old or have a “hardship exemption,” you may be eligible for “catastrophic” health coverage. This kind of insurance shields you from high medical costs if you need a lot of care.
- You may be entitled to stay on your parent’s policy if you are under 26 years old.
- Regularly confirm that your physician is still in your provider’s network; otherwise, you might pay more for an out-of-network visit accidentally. The status of in-network doctors changes more frequently than you might think.
- The new health law prohibits insurance carriers from charging you or your dependents higher rates for pre-existing conditions or for being female.
The ACA can be confusing—particularly due to the amount of misinformation out there. More than ever, understanding your options is critical. Researching a wide range of health insurance plans will help you make a better, more-informed decision.