Buying health insurance - or paying the penalty - isn’t a choice anymore; it’s a necessity. Choosing the best health insurance provider isn’t an easy decision, though. Whether you have to pick the right package from your job or you’re self-employed and searching through every plan out there, you’ll want to make an informed decision.
For some people, specifically those who do freelance work, it can seem like less of a financial drain to pay the penalty and go without health insurance. Medical coverage shouldn’t be an option, though. If you suffer an illness or get into an accident, the physical and financial effects can be enormous and damaging. Approximately half of all bankruptcies occur because people can’t pay their health care bills. Your body may heal, but your bank account could take a serious hit if you don’t have reliable health insurance. Also, remember that health insurance rates will only continue to rise as the years go on - you’re not going to find better rates if you wait.
1. Your health insurance plan should come from a reliable and reputable company with a long, positive track record.
2. Your plan should fit into your regular monthly budget while covering all of the different medical needs you and your family have. There are enough insurance companies to choose from that you should be able to find exactly what you need for a price you can afford.
Your first - and most important - step to choosing health coverage is narrowing down exactly which options you need (and which you can do without). Make a sheet of the primary and secondary health issues you need coverage for. This will make it easy to quickly eliminate providers who don’t have coverage for the things you need.
Next, see who the local doctors are in your area. Do they offer health services that fit your needs? Which insurance providers include these doctors? If the doctors aren’t included, how much extra will it cost you to go out of your network? Is there another doctor in the network that you’re willing to try out? There are a lot of questions to answer, but once you get through this decision making process, you’ll be happy that you have the coverage you need.
If you’re lucky enough to have a job that offers quality health insurance, you’ll want to setup a meeting with the Human Resources department. Most companies offer health insurance for less than you’d pay if you decided to get it on your own, because insurance companies give businesses discounted rates. Once you sign up for a plan, your payment will be automatically deducted from your check. Since company-based health insurance costs less than you’d spend otherwise, you can always supplement it with additional coverage to get everything you need altogether.
If you work for yourself, you’ll have to find the right health insurance provider on your own. While this costs more than getting it through a company, you have more options as well - you can pick pretty much any plan out there. Make sure that you choose a company that you can afford, but don’t sacrifice quality for cost - if you have crummy coverage, you’ll spend more overall if you do get sick or hurt. In the end, it’s usually worth it to pay a little extra if it means having a health insurance provider that you can trust.
Comparing plans can become a headache, because every provider has various tiers of plans, and most plans differ in some way, big or small. You’ll want to compare the following three things:
If you find a plan with a low monthly premium, that’s great, but keep in mind that your deductible and co-payment could be higher. Higher premiums will cost you more every month, but you’ll save when it comes to co-pays and deductibles. It all comes down to your current and projected health needs, plus the coverage you’ll want to have in an emergency.
1. Know exactly what you’re getting in your health insurance. Looking at a sheet of paper with the coverage listed isn’t enough for everybody, and you should never hesitate to call the company if you need some things cleared up before you buy.
2. Double-check the doctors and surgeons that you can use within your health insurance policy, including specialists. Find out if your own doctors are included and if they’re not, how much they’ll cost to visit.
3. If you have kids, make sure to find out what’s covered for them, like physicals exams and immunizations.
4. Some health insurance plans will let you add on accidental coverage, which is great for families - kids can have a mishap at any time!
Remember, health insurance isn’t an issue to take with a grain of salt. Urgent care and hospitalization is never something people expect to need, but whether or not you plan for it, it could happen to you, and it’ll cost a fortune. Without the right health insurance to back you when you’re in dire need, you could end up with a mountain of debt and stress long after you’ve healed.