Healthcare season is upon us. Factor in the rising costs of premiums, co payments, and deductibles, and you may find yourself shopping around for a better deal. But just what makes a health insurance plan the right one for you? What can you do to ensure you get the best deal and walk away with efficient health coverage? In this article, find out # questions to ask yourself when finding the best health insurance plan for you.
1. How Old Are You?
If you are 65 or older, you may be qualified to sign up with Medicare. Know that Medicare plans are not created equal. Some types of Medicare packages include Medicare Advantage Plans, Medicare Cost Plans, and Demonstration/Pilot Programs, to name a few.
If you are interested in enrolling in a Medicare plan, we advise that you speak with a Medicare representative who can assist you with the Medicare options—on top of conducting thorough research.
(Speaking of which, HealthMarket is helping you find health insurance companies.)
2. Do You Have a Chronic Illness?
The reason being, if you do, you’ll be spending more time at the doctor’s office, picking up prescriptions, and, in general, seeking care. You need coverage that can ensure you get low copayments, deductibles, and premiums since you will be using the health services often.
If you need to see a specific provider, it may be best to enroll in a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) Plan.
That way, you have the benefit of picking and choosing what provider you see. This differs from other insurance plans—like the Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) Plans—which have you pick doctors off of “a list.”
Out-of-Pocket providers—providers not on the list and who do not have a specific contract set up with the insurance company—will cost more.
(Please know that some providers do not have any contracts with insurance providers; meaning, PPO or no PPO, you will have to pay the out-of-pocket costs, which will be more.)
3. How Much Do You Want to Invest in Your Health Insurance?
Perhaps you are in good health now and only need the occasional physical and routine check-up. In this case, it may be best to enroll in a high-deductible health insurance plan, which offers a Health Savings Account (HSA).
As Nerd Wallet specified, you invest a certain dollar amount toward your HSA each year. The limit, as Nerd Wallet indicates, is usually around the $1,300 to $6,550 mark for individual plans. Know that as you get older, the limit does change. However, after you reach 65, you cannot invest anymore into your HSA. Nonetheless, you can still pull from it, which means you have just as much access to funds no matter what your health is or how old you are.
Even better, funds from your HSA are not subjected to the Federal Insurance Contributions Act. Which means, as Nerd Wallet states, that the money that normally goes into government programs—such as Social Security and Medicare—is staying in your account.
4. How Healthy Are You?
While we don’t recommend that you choose to not be insured, when you are in good health and you don’t show signs of being in poor health in the near future, you have more health insurance options at your disposal.
NPR goes on to state that bronze plans typically have a lower monthly premium, and may be a good option for those in good health.
Nonetheless, it does come with a high deductible. This means that when you do need to use health services, chances are, you will be paying more than someone who has another plan.
Know that there are risks. Still, again, if you are in good health and don’t expect to be in poor health in the next several years, the bronze plan or a health insurance plan similar to it may be in your best interest.
Of course, conduct thorough research and talk with several accredited and reputable professionals before making your final decision.
5. How Much Money Do You Make?
If you are a college student or under 26 years of age, you may be qualified to be under one of your parent’s health insurance.
If you are unemployed, know that there are ways where you can still be under your previous employer’s health insurance.
If you are low on funds, you may be eligible for Medicaid, which is a government-run program that provides health insurance coverage to those that fall under the low-income bracket.
Know that not everyone qualifies so, again, we recommend that you seek assistance with a qualified professional who can determine if you meet the requirements or not.
6. Do You Need to Have an Operation?
Simply, a trip to the emergency room can cost as much as four times that of rent. A medical operation can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. To reduce costs, it is important that you have health insurance.
Again, if you are older than 65, a Medicare plan may be a good option. If you are under 65 and don’t need to see a specific expert, an HMO plan may be advisable.
Know that it is important that you get coverage before you undergo the operation. Depending on the facility, you may not be able to have the operation until you have coverage.
Still, you should speak with the facility and medical staff to see what your options are if you choose to opt out of insurance. While we don’t recommend it, know that some accredited facilities may be able to provide payment plans. However, it may not be in your best interest.
Final Thoughts: You Do Have Options
Know that no matter what health insurance plan you choose, you should take steps at reducing your health insurance costs.
This means choosing generic over brand medicines, going to the doctor’s only if you absolutely need to, using apps to track and monitor your health, among a host of other options. What coverage do you recommend? How do you reduce your health insurance costs? Leave a comment.