5 Things to Do When Buying Health Insurance
Can't get insurance through your employer? Self employed? Need to get your own private insurance? Here's some things to remember when finding a health insurer on your own:
1. Talk to you doctor!
If you have to apply for health insurance, talk to your doctor first. Most private health insurance will want some kind of report from your doctor; you need to know what your doctor will be saying. This will help you to prepare for the potential impacts to your coverage. You also can ask your doctor which health insurance policies that he or she would recommend. Since doctors deal with insurance companies all the time, they can offer some helpful perspective on who pays claims the fastest or which patients are happiest with their insurer. After all, any insurance policy that your doctor is familiar with will likely have your physician covered as well!
2. Get at least 3 quotes
I know you've heard this before, but it's one of the first places that people cut corners in their search for a new insurer. You might think you are stuck with a certain premium level just because you have excluded health conditions or other health challenges. Think again! Rates may vary considerably from one insurer to another, even in health insurance. Call around. Getting quotes online can really help cut the amount of time that you spend on getting quotes. There are sponsors for this site who would love to help you.
Once you have quotes, you can compare the coverage offered versus the price. Don't always go for the cheapest price. Keep in mind what kind of coverage you need, and whether the deductibles or co-pays are manageable for you. It may be worthwhile to pay a bit more in premiums and get the right kind of coverage when you need it.
3. Low Income? Talk to your Department of Insurance!
If you don't have enough money for health insurance talk to your Department of Insurance. They may be able to refer you to insurers; they may also be able to recommend programs that can help you. Do you qualify for government assistance? Your Department of Insurance can help!
4. Can't afford insurance but not "poor" enough? Try a Discount Health Plan.
While a discount health plan is not insurance, it can help get your costs as low as possible. It basically puts you in a "buying group" for health care services. You get your discount right away, as you pay your bill -- no waiting. The upfront costs of discount health plans are also usually quite low -- often no more than the cost for a Costco or other buying group membership. The one serious drawback to these plans is that you cannot demonstrate continuous insurance. However, it's much better than no coverage at all.
5. Consider a combination of coverage: basic health insurance plus a discount health plan.
The biggest issue with discount health plans is that you don't have health insurance. This is a significant drawback. So what about a basic health insurance policy (which is your least expensive option) combined with the buying power of a discount health plan? Your discount health plan can be very helpful in those situations where your basic coverage doesn't provide any benefit. If you are struggling with how to afford decent coverage for your family, this combination can be the answer.
We also have tips on this site for how to keep your medical costs, including insurance, down.
Health insurance is vital in the US. One serious illness could financially devastate your family. Be sure to have some kind of coverage.
Monique L. Attinger