Buying an individual health insurance plan is a wise financial decision. A major medical emergency can ruin you financially if you don’t have coverage. Also, your insurance company will negotiate health care bills on your behalf and preventive care is covered with most plans, greatly reducing your actual medical costs. And let’s be honest, you’ll sleep a lot better at night knowing you’re covered.
Pay Now or Pay Later
Lets start with the most basic question for any type of insurance: How much coverage do you want and how much do you want to pay a month for it? The two main costs of a plan are the monthly premium you pay now and the amount of your actual medical bills you pay later via your deductible, coinsurance and co-pay.
The less you pay per month, the more you pay later if you need medical care. The more you pay per month the less you pay for actual medical care costs. Knowing where you stand on this question greatly reduces the amount of plans you have to choose from. If you’re not sure, read more about deductibles as they are at the center of this question. You should also play around with some actual health insurance quotes and see how the prices change. Often enough that will answer the question for you.
Can I Keep My Doctor
This is the next biggest question and its important because many health plans will restrict what doctors you can visit. The best answer is: “Call”. If you have a doctor you want to continue to see call the office and ask what health plans they accept. This is the only way to be sure.
Most plans won’t cover maternity costs, dental work or eye care, at least not without an added cost. Decide if you want to have insurance for these expenses of if you’re willing to pay out of pocket. These costs can be paid out of an Health Savings Account.
HMO or PPO
Consider this a tiebraker of sorts. The main difference between an HMO and a PPO is that your non-emergency medical care has to originate with your primary doctor with an HMO. In a PPO you are free to visit any doctor within their network at any time, though most will require a referral from a primary care physician anyway.
Analyze Your Quotes
If you haven’t done so by this point, get a list of quotes for different levels of coverage from different providers here. Its anonymous, with no contact info needed. Sort by the premium/deductible/coinsurance combination you want, and by plans your doctor accepts. If you have a few in mind, take a look at my quote analysis page to help make better sense of them.
If you have any questions about certain details, don’t hesitate to call and ask. When I was choosing my plan, I called eHealthinsurance with a few questions and found them to be very helpful and professional. Along with all the free info they give you, it’s the main reason why I recommend them.
Apply For Insurance
Once you have selected a plan, take a deep breath, the hard part is over. Fill out the application online. Please, be honest when doing so. Failing to report a preexisting condition can void your policy, and leave you with no coverage at all. Do not make that mistake. Also, if you’re feeling a bit of buyers remorse at this point, remember you can always switch plans and providers later. Its not like signing a 2-year cell phone contract.
If you are canceling another plan, make sure you don’t leave any gaps in coverage when you fill out your new coverage dates.
Once you submit your application the insurance provider you have selected will review it. They will either reject the application, accept the application at the quote provided to you, or accept the application at a new quote based on the information you provided them.
If they accept you and you accept the quote, congratulations you now have health insurance coverage! It’s a great feeling of both security and independence isn’t it?