Affordable, Comprehensive Health Insurance: How to Get What You Need
Your health should be your most important life concern; after all, your life depends on it. But it's difficult to maintain good health without adequate insurance coverage.
According to the National Coalition on Health Care, health costs for 2003 equaled $1.7 trillion, rising 7.7 percent from the year before. And the cost of health care has continued to rise each year thereafter. Moreover,experts now predict that in 2006, family health insurance premiums will rise to an average of more than $14,500--making a very real dent in Americans' pocketbooks.
With all this doom and gloom circulating, you may find yourself wondering how you can ever keep pace. But with some research, knowledge and negotiation, you and your family can have the coverage you need when you need it most--and at a price you can afford.
Know What to Ask
While there is no magic formula for finding affordable, comprehensive health insurance, knowledge is your best weapon for waging war against the high cost of health care. And the best way to get the knowledge you need to help you find affordable health insurance is to ask questions--lots of them.
Start your search by making a list of specific, detail-oriented questions you can ask insurers. Your goal should be to gather as much information as possible so you can make an informed decision regarding your health insurance.
Focus on coverage first; then examine costs.
The following list will help get you started:
1. What percentage of costs are covered?
2. What care is excluded?
3. Are the following covered?
-Maternity and well-baby care
-Alternative care, such as chiropractic and acupuncture
4. May I choose my primary care physician?
5. Do I need referrals to specialists?
6. What are my limits on health care?
7. Is there a list of in-network care providers?
8. How quickly can I see my physician?
9. How do you define emergency care? How does this differ from urgent care?
10. Is there an annual limit on the services I receive? If so, what is it?
11. How much are the monthly premiums?
12. What are the deductibles I must meet?
13. What are my coinsurance costs?
14. Are out-of-town emergencies covered?
15. How much do I pay out-of-pocket for out-of-network physician visits?
Quality health insurance agents won't mind you asking questions; in fact, they'll expect it!
When you talk to insurers, record the answers each gives you in a notebook for future reference. That way, you can compare information as you go along.
Know Where to Look
The next step in finding affordable, comprehensive health insurance coverage is to find a qualified insurer.
First, talk to your friends and family to get their feedback and recommendations. They may have valuable insight to offer that can save you time and money.
Going online is a great way to do some research at this point. Check out major health insurers' Web sites, including their "About Us" pages and consumer testimonials. Finding out how previous and present customers feel about their experiences with insurers can help you determine whether or not you want to do business with them, too.
Check out insurer ratings by going to the Better Business Bureau Web site. Here you can search company financial and customer service ratings by name.
Independent rating companies like A.M. Best and Weiss Ratings are also a great resource, and can be reached online as well.
Your state's department of insurance can provide you yet more information on health insurance plans and companies/agents licensed to conduct business in your state.
Finally, consider using an insurance marketing service like insureme.com. This is a free service that specializes in matching you to health insurance agents in your area who have the affordable, comprehensive health coverage you're looking for. You can apply for health insurance quotes online or by phone in a matter of minutes, and the health questions you answer will help you make a connection with the most qualified insurers for your individual situation.
Upon making contact with insurance agents, it's simply a matter of asking the right questions (as listed above) and choosing the policy with the best coverage at the lowest price.
Once you've chosen an insurer, garnered the information you need, and compared health insurance policies, negotiate with your insurance provider for an individual or family rate you can afford. Discounts are often available for non-smokers and non-drinkers, as well as those living healthy lifestyles and working in low-risk jobs.
Before you sign anything, make sure you understand all your health plan's exclusions, limitations and costs. In most states you'll have from 10-30 days to examine your new health insurance policy and make changes or cancel it with no repercussions; but it's always best to get all the facts and make the best decision possible the first time around to avoid misunderstandings and unnecessary expense.
You should receive a copy of your binder, or temporary health insurance policy, shortly after you purchase your policy. Keep this in a safe place as evidence of coverage until your new, permanent health policy arrives.
As soon as you receive it, review your new policy's declaration page carefully to make sure everything you and your insurer agreed upon is included. If items are missing, now is the time to bring it up with your agent--not later, when a health claim you've submitted is denied.
Get What You Need
If you're willing to take some time, do your homework, and shop around, you can find affordable, comprehensive health insurance that will help you maintain a full, healthy life...regardless what the experts say.
So put your best foot forward--and go to it!
InsureMe, an Englewood, Colorado-based company, links agents nationwide with consumers shopping for insurance. Specializing in auto, home, life, long-term care and health insurance quotes, the InsureMe network provides thousands of agents with insurance leads every year. For more information, visit www.InsureMe.com.