Shopping for medical insurance plans is about as much fun as a root canal. You can make it easier, however, by following this simple guide to narrowing down your choices in a logical way.
Not all medical treatments are covered by every health insurance policy. Before you start searching for medical insurance plans, sit down and make a list of your priorities. Which types of coverage, procedures and treatments are “must haves” for you and your family? For example, do you want and/or need:
- Hospital care
- Office visits to your primary care physician
- Maternity care
- Tests and x-rays
- Mental health care
- Well-baby care
- Prescription drugs
- Nursing home care
One important area to explore when looking for an affordable medical insurance plans is the amount of personal choice you have with regard to which doctors you can see. Some plans won’t cover your expenses if you see a physician outside of their network. Find out the answers to these questions for all of the medical insurance plans you are considering:
- Can I keep my current health care provider?
- Do I have to choose my physician from a network of preferred providers?
- Are referrals required to see a specialist? Or can I elect to see a specialist on my own and still receive some coverage?
- If there is a network, how much, if any, of my medical bills will be covered if I see a physician outside of the network?
Now for the biggie: cost. Cost is undoubtedly the number one factor that the vast majority of consumers look at when shopping for private medical insurance plans. Costs come in number of different forms…premiums, co-pays and costs for seeing physicians outside of the network, if applicable. That is why you need to take each and every expense into account when choosing an individual medical insurance policy, not just the premium. Low cost medical insurance comes in many forms.
Find the answers to these questions for all of the medical insurance plans you are looking at:
- Is there a deductible? If so, how much is it?
- Is there a cap on the amount of out-of-pocket expenses I will have to pay?
- How much are the premiums?
- Is there a co-payment? If so, how much is it?
- Does the policy cover the cost of prescription drugs?
- Is there a cap on the amount of expenses the policy will pay for any specific illness or injury?
- Which, if any, “high risk lifestyle choices” (such as smoking or riding a motorcycle) will increase the cost of coverage?
Consider your convenience as well. Dealing with health insurance paperwork and trips to the doctor aren’t exactly a walk in the park. Any way that you can the process easier is a good thing. When searching for affordable medical plans, find out about:
- The location of the doctors and hospitals in the network
- How easy it is to get a timely appointment
- The amount of paperwork
This is by no means a comprehensive list of the factors to consider when you are searching through medical insurance policies. Rather, it is a starting place for narrowing down your choices. For instance, if you absolutely want to have free choice of doctors, then Policy A, an HMO, can be ruled out. No matter your personal preferences, take the time to find out the answer to all of the above questions to ensure that you are getting a policy that is not only affordable but also meetings your needs and preferences.