Tips on how to choose a health insurance plan

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By: Joy Mali
on 25th Jul,2013

Choosing from the various health insurance plans may be difficult. There are a lot of good plans that might have you confused.
Tips on how to choose a health insurance plan

Choosing from the various health insurance plans may be difficult. There are a lot of good plans that might have you confused. However, when it comes to choosing a health insurance policy, there are certain factors that you need to consider. These factors will help you arrive at a policy that best suits your needs and your budget.

• Determine what you need to have- Determining what you need your insurance plan to cover is important. Of course, some medical illnesses or injuries arise unexpectedly but if, for example, you are planning to start a family, then it is wise to purchase maternity coverage. Or if your family has a history of heart disease, then you might want to consider purchasing an insurance policy with coverage that includes cardiac screening exams and other needed tests or medications.

• Do not overspend- When choosing a health insurance plan, make sure that you do not buy more coverage than you need. Only purchase the plan that works for you. Assess your health and check your credit scores to determine your budget. If you are young, with no health conditions, and your family does not have a history of medical illnesses, it might be worth it to consider a plan with a high deductible. This means that out-of-pocket costs will be lower when the time comes and you need to go to a hospital or visit a doctor. In addition, a health insurance plan with a higher deductible will cost you less in insurance premiums per month and could help you save money in the future.

• Check which hospitals and doctors the insurance plan is associated with- If you have a specific doctor and hospital or other medical staff you would like, you need to make sure that the insurance you are planning to get is associated with them. Health insurance policies typically cover only a small portion of your medical expenses when you decide to go someplace or to some doctor not included in their network. So before you purchase a policy, consult an insurance agent or visit the insurance company’s website to see a list of affiliated medical institutions or doctors.

• Know the percentage of your share- Health insurance plans are typically required to let you know the percentage of the medical expenses you are expected to pay. This is called the “co-pay". When you choose an insurance plan with a low deductible and you require medical care, your co-pay amount can be quite expensive.

• Purchase a plan that covers your medications- If you are regularly taking a certain medicine or prescription drug, it would be best to include them in your insurance plan.

• Check if there are annual limits- There are policies that impose limits on the amount of coverage as well as services that you receive. If you have a health condition, make sure that you consider the annual limits when checking out the different insurance plans.

• Include your dependents- Insurance policies allow children under age 19 with pre-existing conditions to be considered as dependents. If you have several children under the age of 26, with no health insurance plan, you can consider them a dependent as well.

• Take your time in reviewing different health insurance plans- Just as when making other decisions, it is very important that you take your time and review the benefits, services, as well as cost-sharing requirements of the different insurance plans. Never just look at the benefits and features highlighted by the insurance company. The offers and the plans may look attractive at first but you may be unaware of the copay percentage and other cost-sharing requirements which could affect you financially. So when choosing a health insurance plan, take your time and if you have any concerns make sure that you let an agent or a representative know about them. Ask them questions and never sign any agreement without having your questions answered.

A health insurance plan is a necessity for every individual and while they may, sometimes, be expensive, there are ways to ensure that you are staying within your budget and getting the most out of your money. The most important thing to remember is to know everything there is to know about the insurance plan, so you can know your out-of-pocket costs and the types of coverage you have.

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