Megan L. Mahan
What to Know When Shopping for Health Insurance
Between the rising cost of health insurance and the various types of health policies, finding a plan to fit your health needs and your budget can seem overwhelming. So how can you sort though these variables and find a policy that works for you?
Doing Your Homework
Doing a little research before you start shopping for health insurance will go a long way once you start comparing quotes and policies.
You can start by reading up on the types of policies available in your area and determining what you want and need out of your health insurance--from prescription drugs to coverage of pre-existing conditions, you'll want to identify these necessities from the outset.
To learn more about health insurance in your area, contact your state's Division of Insurance (DOI). This underutilized resource was developed to educate and protect consumers on the topic of insurance and has many guides and publications to help you make informed decisions about health insurance. And the more you know, the better decisions you'll make!
Under most state laws, health insurance policies are not regulated by the government. This means that insurers can sell different health insurance policies for very different prices. While that may seem complicated for the consumer, it's actually a benefit. This means that you can get health insurance quotes from multiple insurers and select the best health insurance policy for you.
So what exactly should you be looking at when comparing policies? Here are a few important questions to ask:
Does the policy cover all major medical expenses?
What's the monthly premium?
What are the choices for deductibles?
What percentage does the insurer pay after the deductible is met?
What coverages are included in the policy?
Does the policy cover prescription drugs?
Does the policy cover preventative care?
Are your doctors and health care facilities inside of the policy's network?
What is the cost for seeing a physician outside of the policy's network?
While you will certainly think of more questions to ask potential insurers, this list should get you started. Remember, the more you know, the better decisions you'll make!
As with most areas of business, there are a few untrustworthy insurers out there who ruin things for the good guys. That's why it's a good idea to investigate your insurer and his or her credentials before signing a health insurance policy.
You can check your agent's credentials, as well as the company's customer satisfaction rating and financial standing through consumer-serving sites like AM Best or the Better Business Bureau. Doing a little behind the scenes work on your insurer beforehand will save you the stress and financial loss of doing business with a dodgy insurer.
You can also protect yourself by knowing your rights and privileges before signing on the dotted line. Most states now require insurers to cover certain benefits, such as mammograms and prostate exams; your local DOI will have more information on mandated benefits and other rights and privileges.
Most insurers will also offer a free-look period of 10 or so days to review your policy and make any final adjustments or decisions. If you decide you don't want the policy during that free-look period, you are entitled to a full refund and your policy will be cancelled without penalty. As a general rule, if your health policy doesn't contain a free-look period, you're probably better off purchasing health insurance from someone else.
Applying Lessons Learned
Now that you've gotten a few pointers on shopping for health insurance, you can get started and determine your needs, get the facts, shop for health insurance quotes and compare prospective insurers for price and service.
Taking things one step at a time will make the task of finding cheap health insurance less daunting--and get you on the road to savings success!
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 InsureMe.com.