Top Tips For Buying Affordable Health Insurance
By Michale Trueson
· First things 1st, Protect yourself
Never, Never, Never let your health insurance lapse. If your new insurance doesn’t come through or your health conditions have changed you may not be eligible for similar coverage at a similar price.
· Avoid fraudulent insurance plans
Always, Always go with a large well known company. Small or unknown insurance companies that aggressively fight for you to sign up and have lower rates than comparable plans of larger companies are a bad bad sign. They sign up thousands of individuals in good health then suddenly when people start submitting claims the insurance company starts dramatically increasing their rates. Clients in good health go elsewhere but those with health issues get stuck. The insurance company may continue increasing rates and reducing benefits leaving you stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Call your states insurance department and make sure the insurance agent and company are legitimate, and licensed in your state. Most fraudulent plans are sold over the Internet or through direct mail solicitations.
Always use a check, money order or credit card when buying a policy so that you have a record of your purchase. Never pay cash and avoid direct withdrawal and automated payments at least for several statement periods. Never make payments to the agent, only to the insurance company.
Never be pressured by “one time deals” or “last chance offers for special savings”.
· Know what your buying
Remember if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
When comparing health plans, check the “Exclusions” first. One of the first things an experienced agent looks at in a health insurance plan is the list of plan exclusions, or what is not covered. Often found in small print, what is not covered is equally if not more important than what is.
Comparing policies and providers is a must in today’s high cost insurance market. Using a website or agent that compares multiple providers and plans is the best way to ensure your getting the best policy for the right price, but remember if a policy is significantly cheaper, beware.
· Important notes of interest
Smoking will dramatically raise the policy prices of your health and life insurance plans.
Locking into a health insurance policy when your young will help you ensure long term affordable coverage since getting health insurance when your older, or have established medical issues is much more difficult and costly.
Having some individual health insurance is far better than having nothing at all. With no rehabilitation benefits you could lose your job, in turn losing everything you’ve worked for.
· What are your needs?
Are you planning on starting a family, and therefore in need of both maternity and child coverage, including immunizations? A problem newborn can easily accumulate $200,000 in advanced medical care. Therefore a plan with maternity benefits can shoot up costs. Overall, buy the best policy you can afford to keep.
Would you like your office and/or hospital visits included in your coverage? Do you need coverage for prescriptions? Be sure to consider your current and future needs when shopping for insurance.
Do not inquire about health insurance until you have fully evaluated your present and past medical conditions. An Individual Health Insurance Company may elect not to cover your conditions, or they may pump up the normal premium rates.
If you have serious health conditions you might try to see if Blue Cross will insure you, keep your current coverage in place if they have a 180 +- day delay for pre-existing conditions.
· How can policy rates be adjusted to be more affordable
Check to see how much lower your premium will be if you opt for a major medical plan with a $1,000, $2,500, or even $5,000 deductible.
I recently switched from an insurance plan with $1000 deductible plus 50% copay to $3500 and $30 copay per office visit. To a 1500 deductible with only 3 office visits paid for per year. I rarely go to the doctor so having to pay for my visits myself wasn’t going to cost me much and my policy was $400 less per quarter, substantially better for me at $1600 per year savings.
Note: not all individual health insurance policies are Major Medical plans. Some are hospital plans with stripped benefits, or just hospital indemnity plans which would limit the amount paid per day for hospitalization.
Check to see if the insurer has one rate for all ages, male and female. Some individual health plans base your rates on age, with females getting lower rates at certain ages, and males getting higher rates.
Get multiple quotes from various insurance companies in order to make your best decision. By comparing companies, you may save some money and find greater benefit plans. Be sure that you are comparing apples to apples, since prices and coverage on different plans will vary.
· There are several types of health plans available to choose
Always try to purchase a Major Medical insurance plan. Most Major Medical plans will pay up to $2,000,000 or more in lifetime benefits.
There are major medical plans available that allow you to customize your coverage and stay within your budget. Health insurance plans that cover all the basics are flexible and affordable. You can pick and choose the coverage and deductible amount you want.
Check out the HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) beware though, an HMO is difficult and resistant, you may have to beg to get a referral approved, even though your doctor insists on it. Plus you select your doctor from their list and only use a certain hospital when necessary.
A PPO (Preferred Provider Organization) offers more flexibility at a higher price.
POS (Point of Service), HSA (Health Savings Account-also known as MSA-medical savings account), and traditional indemnity, which is becoming less common as it is more expensive than the other plans. Carefully compare the pros and cons of each plan, and consider which will be more beneficial to you.
One plan that is gaining popularity fast is a (HDHP) High Deductible Health Plan. Major medical coverage is provided with this type of plan. This type of plan features higher deductibles than other types of health insurance and provides coverage for serious injury and illness. Routine doctor’s visits and exams can be included for as cheap as $19 per month with this plan.
Similar to an HMO, PPO, and POS an HDHP uses a network of doctors and hospitals to provide complete medical care and benefits to it’s members. These networks are very large and have providers wherever you may live in America. Discount medical service is given to members of an HDHP plan allowing you and your insurance company to reduce medical costs which keeps your premium lower.
Many variables are possible with an HDHP health plan such as a high deductible, flexible catastrophic limits, coinsurance, copays, preventive care, and prescriptions. Monthly premium savings can be quite substantial, so be sure to look at a high deductible health plan before you decide to buy a new health insurance policy.