For many of us, the health insurance world is a minefield. We may have grown up needing the stuff, but that doesn’t make it easier to navigate. The chances are that you’ve always been on one plan. Perhaps it’s the plan your parents were on or the first one you stumbled across. Or, maybe you were on a plan with your previous employer.
Whatever the reason, there comes a time when we all start considering alternatives. And, when we do, we face a world of facts we’re unaccustomed to. It can be a difficult hurdle to overcome and confusing to say the least. But, it’s important you get past the jargon to find the best plan. If you do get ill, the right plan will save you a lot of hassle and expense.
For the most part, taking your time and researching will lead you to the best option. And, to help you navigate these murky insurance waters, we’ve put together a checklist of points you should follow during your hunt.
1. Know where to find health insurance
First, you need to know where to find your medical insurance. You may think it’s as easy as a quick Google search, but you stand a better chance of getting the best policy if you know what you’re looking for.
There are a few different places in which to find your health insurance. Nothing’s stopping you operating directly through insurance companies. And, a quick search will lead you to plenty of those. But, this may not be the best way to a cheap deal.
Instead, you may need to get your head around the marketplaces. For the most part, you’ll be dealing with the Affordable Care Act Marketplace or the Federal Marketplace, depending on where you live. Both these marketplaces attempt to find the cheapest health insurance possible. Whether you’re eligible depends on everything from your income to your living situation. All you need to do is enter your zipcode, and answer a few questions. If you’re eligible, it’s worth operating this way. If not, private exchange with the insurer may be your only way forward.
2. Consider what type you need
So far, so easy. But things are about to get complicated. Once you find where to get your insurance, you need to consider the different types. While it be would be easier if there was one blanket insurance, that’s not the reality. Instead, you need to get your head around a few different types, some of which we’re going to look at more here:
Health Maintenance Organization (HMO)
A plan like this is ideal for those looking for a cheaper policy. If you stay close to home and have a primary doctor, this is the best bet for you. The downside is that the low cost comes with a clause – you have to be ‘in network’ to get care. Which means that you’re fine if you’re visiting your usual doctor. But, if you move out of state, you’ll no longer be covered. Bear in mind, too, that you’ll need a referral to enable you access to specialist care.
Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO)
A more expensive option, PPO plans provide you with easier access to a variety of medical staff. As the name suggests, these plans operate with ‘preferred providers.’ You’ll have access to a range of services, as long as you operate through your plan’s preferred providers. This is good for those who don’t yet have a set doctor, as it provides you with easy access to an in-place team.
Point Of Service Plan (POS)
A point of service plan is a mix of both HMO and PPO and sits slap bang in the middle of both when it comes to price. With this plan, you’ll have the chance to work with your chosen doctor, while also gaining the possibility of working with others.
Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO)
An EPO is another hybrid of sorts. While offering no out of network coverage, you don’t need a primary caregiver to make this plan work. As with a PPO, you’ll have access to a team of predetermined medical professionals.
High-Deductible Health Plans (HDHP)
With a high deductible plan, you’ll be looking at much lower premiums. The compromise is that you will have to pay more out of pocket if you need medical help. These plans may be the only option for low earners. And, they provide the opportunity to open a Health Savings Account, which will offer further protection.
As you can see, this isn’t going to be an easy choice. The distinctions between groups, while subtle, could make all the difference. Make sure to research each option thoroughly to determine which would be the best fit for you.
3. Know what is and isn’t covered
The struggle doesn’t end there, either. Even after you’ve decided on a blanket plan, you need to consider the technicalities of each provider. All health care providers offer different coverage packages, and you need to consider your past health issues, and current needs when deciding.
Of course, we assume that some things would automatically be covered. But, assuming is always a mistake. Don’t think your plan will include all medication because it’s not always the case. It’s also worth ensuring that long-term health issues will be covered. Sometimes, a plan will have a clause which only covers issues that occur after you sign up.
It’s also worth considering more specialist coverage needs. Does your plan cover treatment centers, or psychiatric stays? While such information isn’t always easy to find, click here to see just how easy it is to check these things on your own. And, don’t hesitate to do so before you make a final decision.
By this point in the search, the chances are that you feel a little overwhelmed. So, write down a list of any health issues you’ve had in the past. Think, too, about your family health history. Then, compare the points with each plan to find the best fit.