Open enrollment tends to happen around this time of year and if you’re one of the fortunate individuals to have insurance options through your employer, you should take advantage of it.
However, when selecting health insurance, it is not to be taken lightly as there is a lot involved in selecting an insurance provider that will equip you with the coverage you need in times of sickness and in health. Rather than just selecting an insurance policy because it’s what your parents used or the most affordable, you should consider necessary factors that include:
· Your Personal Priorities
· Health Insurance Types
· Overall Cost of Coverage
Make a List of Your Personal Priorities
What you need from an insurance provider should be your first consideration. Paying for something that does not compensate all of your needs is a waste of money. Ask yourself questions such as; do you like your current doctors? If so, which insurance plans do they accept? Do you or loved ones get sick often? Do you require a visit to various specialists throughout the year for preexisting medical conditions? This will give you a basis of what to look for as you begin your research on various health insurance providers.
Learn About health Insurance Types
There are three main types of insurance plans that you can choose from: Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO), Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO), or Point of Service Plans (POS).
· HMO – HMOs are often regarded as the most affordable options for health insurance coverage. You are only allowed to see doctors within the network, limiting your flexibility when it comes to choosing healthcare providers and specialists.
· PPO – PPOs are a bit more expensive than an HMO. However, you are allowed to choose doctors and specialists both in and out of network. Out of network medical professionals will cost quite a bit more, and overall out of pocket expenses for PPOs can be costly.
· POS – POSs are said to be a combination of the HMO and the PPO. They allow you to select a primary care physician of your choice; however, you are typically required to receive a referral from this physician to see other specialists. The costs are not as steep as a PPO, but are still not as affordable as most HMOs.
Factoring Your Total Cost of Coverage
Most people assume that the premium is all that needs to be considered when looking at health insurance costs. However, there are some other out of pocket expenses that one needs to consider.
· Premium Costs – The premium cost is often the most obvious expense to calculate. It is the amount that your insurance provider bills you on the monthly basis in order to keep coverage.
· Deductible – The deductible is the amount you will have to pay each year towards medical bills before the insurance company will pay their portion. Not all insurance plans have a deductible but it is worth checking into.
· Coinsurance – Unless your insurance plan includes 100 percent coverage, you are going to have to pay some coinsurance. This is the amount you share in payment of medical bills with your insurance provider.
· Co-pay – Your co-pay is the amount you have to pay every time you make a visit to a healthcare provider.
To factor in all of these costs, utilize online resources, of which there are many. Sites like Health Net are geared toward individuals and employers and allow you to review various insurance plans, make comparisons, and even calculate projected costs. By being fully informed in all of the above mentioned areas, securing an insurance premium for you and your loved ones becomes a lot simpler.
– Submitted by Katherine Smith