- Health Care, Drugs & Insurance
How To Buy Health Insurance For Yourself Or Your Family
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How To Buy Health Insurance
Not everyone has a job that provides health insurance. Figuring out how and what to buy on your own in terms of insurance can be confusing. Still, it is wise not to go without any health insurance at all. If you have a dire emergency or come down with a serious illness, costs could become unmanageable without insurance.
To save yourself time, money, and headaches, keep the following in mind when buying health insurance:
Terminology: Make sure you look up any terms you do not understand or ask a representative at the health insurance company to explain terms to you. A co-pay is how much you pay for prescriptions, office visits to doctors, and other covered expenses. A deductible is the total amount per year you pay out-of-pocket before the insurance covers costs at 100%.
Prioritize: If you are in your 20’s, you will not have the same needs as a person in his or her 60’s. If you plan to get pregnant, you will want more coverage than if you don’t. Issues like these are worth listing on paper before you go online to research plans. Do you need decent prices on prescriptions, office visits, physical therapy, behavioral therapy, etc.? Do you have a specific condition? How much can you afford to pay out-of-pocket per year? Consider the various types of coverage, premiums, and deductibles.
Compare various costs: Premiums are not the only costs to consider when buying health insurance. Consider the maximum amount you will have to pay out-of-pocket before the plan takes over 100% of the costs. Ask about deductibles, co-pays, prescription costs, co-insurance levels, etc.
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Remember customer service: Customer service often seems to have gone the way of the Dodo Bird nowadays. However, it is worth trying to find a company that at least offers reasonable customer service. You can check yourself by simply calling the company. Can you get through to a person, and how quickly? Do they answer all your questions, and courteously? Thanks to the internet, we can now access customer service ratings more quickly and easily than ever, and in greater amounts. Keep in mind that you want to be dealing with a reasonable company in case you have a denial of care or other dispute.
You (will) have rights: Now more than ever in terms of health care, we will have rights -- some of which we’ve never had before in America. The Affordable Care Act will be ushered in over time. For a guide to how it will work, check out the Consumer Reports guide.
Compare networks: Find out if you can keep your regular doctor if you buy a certain type of insurance. Some insurance plans require you to see only doctors and hospitals in their networks. Other plans offer different scales of how much they will pay for doctors and hospitals inside or outside their network.
Interview a broker: Keep in mind that brokers sometimes earn commissions from insurers, meaning they are paid to send you towards plans that benefit them, not you. Ask the broker up front how he or she is compensated. However, an honest broker might be able to break down the confusing details of the health insurance world to you. If you want to hire one, make sure they have credentials with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (naic.org) or the National Association of Insurance Underwriters (nahu.org).
You are wise to take care of your health insurance needs before you come down with a dire need for care. Doing your research in advance will put you in good stead going forward.
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Buying Health Insurance
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