Health Insurance Buyer’s Guide

Buying Shopping for health insurance can leave many people confused. Knowing which insurance company to choose or which insurance plan is the best may seem daunting impossible. But once you know the basics of health insurance, choosing the right health insurance plan is simple easy.

This article will provide some of the most basic and helpful tools and explanations for health insurance shoppers. First, it is important to learn about helps to understand the different types of health insurance plans and their benefits and drawbacks. Plans differ in the amount you pay out-of-pocket, which doctors you can visit, and how the your insurance bills are paid. Besides just helping you choose the most efficient and cost-effective plan, we’ll teach you about another way you can save on health insurance: a Health Savings Account. Additionally, it is important to learn about dental insurance as well. Many health insurance plans do not include dental insurance under their benefits, so we’ll go over how to shop for and obtain separate dental coverage. Then it is important to learn about ways you can save on health insurance. There are several ways you can save including Health Savings Accounts and Discount Cards. LastlyAnd finally, don’t forget to compare plans before you make your decisionwe’ll explain why it’s so important to put your new knowledge to good use by comparing health insurance plans.

Types of Health Insurance Plans

Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) Plans

Generally, HMOs have low or even no deductible and the co-payments will be relatively comparatively low as well. You pay a monthly premium that gives you access to coverage for doctor appointments, hospital stays, emergency care, tests, x-rays and therapy. You will have to choose a primary care physician (PCP) within your insurance provider’s network of physicians, and in order to see a specialist you need to receive a referral from your PCP. Under an HMO plan, only visits to doctors and hospitals with the insurance company’s network of providers are covered; you’ll have to pay for visits if you go to an out-of-network doctors or hospitals your insurance will not cover the costs.

Preferred Provider Organization (PPO)

Plans Under a PPO plan, you will use the insurance company’s network of doctors and hospitals for any services or supplies you need. These healthcare providers have been contracted by the insurance company to provide services at a discounted rate. Generally, you will be able to choose doctors and specialists within this network without having to choose a primary care physician or get a referral. Before the insurance company will start paying for your medical bills you will usually need to pay an annual deductible. Also, you may have a co-payment for some services or be required to cover a percentage of the total medical bill.

Point of Service (POS) Plans

A POS plan is a combination of the features offered by HMO and PPO plans. You are required to choose a primary care physician, whose services are not usually subject to a deductible, but your PCP can refer you to out-of-network specialists whose services will be partially covered by your insurance company. Additionally, POS plans usually offer coverage for preventive healthcare, which includes regular checkups. Your PCP will be able to give you referrals for any specialists. If these specialists are out-of-network you will need to pay out-of-pocket and then apply for reimbursement from the insurance company. With a POS plan you will benefit from some of the savings of an HMO and will have greater flexibility in choosing healthcare providers, similar to PPO.

Dental Insurance

It is important to get a dental insurance plan along with your health insurance plan. In order to keep your teeth and gums health you need regular visits to the dentist. Without dental insurance, the cost of dentist appointments will be much higher making it difficult to keep up with the payments. Dental insurance is similar to health insurance in that each month you pay a premium, which entitles you to certain dental benefits. Benefits include checkups, cleanings, x-rays, and other dental services. There are plans that may cover dental implants, oral surgery and orthodontia, but they will be more expensive. Like health insurance, plans are categorized into indemnity and managed-care plans. If you choose an indemnity plan you will have a broader choice of dental care providers to choose from. You won’t have to choose one primary dentist and generally, you won’t need to acquire referrals. In order for the insurance company to cover your dental expenses you will need to send them a claim before they reimburse you for covered services. As a result, you will have to pay more out-of-pocket with an indemnity plan, but you will have more flexibility in choosing which dentists you visit. On the other hand, managed-care plans will provide you with a dental provider network and you will need to visit dentists within this network in order to get coverage for these services. With a dental care network, the insurance company has arranged pre-negotiated rates that you will receive when you visit these dentists. With a managed-care plan, the dentists will submit the claim for you, lowering your out-of-pocket expenses.

Save on Health Insurance

Health Savings Account

Health Savings Accounts (HSA) are tax-free savings accounts designed to help consumers pay for healthcare services while limiting premium expenses for unwanted benefits. The plans have lower premiums and higher deductibles than other insurance plans because they offer fewer benefits and require you to use the money in your HSA to pay for certain qualified medical services. However, if you don’t need to visit the doctor frequently and don’t anticipate requiring regular medical attention, HSA plans are a cost-effective method of insuring against the worst without paying for coverage you won’t use. In order to open an HSA, you’ll need to have an HSA-compatible health insurance plan. You may only use the funds in your HSA to pay for qualified medical expenses. Usually, your HSA plan will have a deductible that, once met, requires your insurance company to pay for any additional qualified medical expenses for the rest of the year.

Dental Insurance

Health insurance typically does not cover dental services, but in order to keep your teeth and gums healthy, you need regular visits to the dentist. Without dental insurance, regular dentist appointments can prohibitively expensive. Make sure your mouth is covered by shopping for both health and dental insurance. Dental insurance is similar to health insurance in that each month you pay a premium, which entitles you to certain dental benefits. Benefits include checkups, cleanings, x-rays, and other dental services. There are plans that may cover dental implants, oral surgery and orthodontia, but they will be more expensive. Like health insurance, plans are categorized into indemnity and managed-care plans. If you choose an indemnity plan you will have a broader choice of dental care providers to choose from. You won’t have to choose one primary dentist and generally, you won’t need to acquire referrals for special services. In order for the insurance company to cover your dental expenses you will need to send them a claim for reimbursement. You’ll end up paying more out-of-pocket with an indemnity plan, but you will have more flexibility in choosing which dentists you visit. By contrast, managed-care plans limit you to the doctors and services within a dental services network, and you will need to visit doctors within this network in order to get coverage for their services. Within the dental care network, your insurance company has arranged pre-negotiated rates that you will receive when you visit dentists in the network. Your dentist will submit your insurance claim for you, keeping your out-of-pocket expenses lower than with an indemnity plan.

Compare the Plans

Comparing insurance plans is an important step in buying health insurance. It will save you money in the long run if you take the time to compare premium prices, out-of-pocket costs, plan benefits, the network of physicians available with different plans, and the quality of insurance providers. If you have a favorite physician, make sure your health insurance covers visits to him or her. If you don’t need to see the doctor very often, don’t pay a high premium for low office visit copayments. Health insurance plans are designed to address specific healthcare needs, and you’ll save money and get the most effective coverage by comparing plans to find the health insurance plan that best fits your budget and lifestyle.

Before Choosing Health Insurance, Here is Critical Information You Should Know

Understanding Health Insurance

This article is written to assist consumers sift through multiple options, plans, exclusions and summaries of benefits and understand what Critical questions you should ask when researching health coverage. Finding the most beneficial health insurance plan to meet your unique and individual needs is difficult. This guide will help consumers understand the basics of health insurance and what to look for when comparing plans.

14 Costy Mistakes You’ll Want To Avoid

1-FREE – Do You Have a “30 Day FREE Look Period?” Can you get your $ back if you are not happy?

2- DEDUCTIBLES: How many deductibles do I have per year? Some plans will have more than 1 deductible per person per year!

3- NETWORK RATES: Prior to your deductible being met, will your insurance company extend their discounted network rates to you? Example: Insurance Company A – 5 stitches to finger – Total cost $2000, patient responsibility, $800, or Insurance Company B – 5 stitches to finger – Total cost $2000, patient responsibility, $2000. (no network break).

4- NEGOTIATED RATE: What is the AVERAGE negotiated rate? (Sometimes referred to Network Rate – very very important!)

5- UNCLEAR TERMS Is your $100 “co-pay” for an Emergency Room visit REALLY $100? Some companies the $100 copay is more like a fee AFTER your deductible, and you’ll still pay the co-insurance and the $100.

6- LIMITS on benefits, for example: $500 limit or $250 limit on Emergency Room expenses. $50 limit on Dr. Visits. Once the Limit is reached, YOU pay everything else out of pocket. $500 limit on hospital expenses per day (quick way to bankruptcy!)

7- PREVENTATIVE – Will you have to meet your deductible, or do you have a 1 year waiting period for preventative? Do you want to wait 1 year before you can have your female exam, or a mammogram?

8- TRAVEL – If you are out of state, are you covered for illnesses? If you eat something that doesn’t agree with you and become very sick and need a doctor, will you be covered? (Not just life threatening emergencies.)

9- RATE INCREASES – I am buying a “fixed rate”. Ask yourself if it makes sense to pay extra over the next 2 – 3 years for a fixed rate? Make sure your rate is set for at least 12 months but does it make sense to pay in advance for a fixed rate? Sometimes plans will naturally go down in price, so does it make sense to pay extra to have a fixed rate?

10- SUPPORT – After I buy this plan, MAY I CALL MY AGENT’S DIRECT LINE with billing issues, or plan questions, or technical problems, or claims questions or concerns of any kind?

11- EXCLUSIONS – Read the “Exclusions” in your plan. Are the exclusions available for you to read? Is there an exclusion that you cannot live with? For example: exclude well baby visits. Is this an exclusion that you didn’t catch in the plan details?

12- MAJOR MEDICAL plans are designed to pay for MOST of your medical expenses when you become ill or injured. You’ll want a Major Medical plan from a reputable company that has “Credible Coverage.” Discount plans or Limited Medical Plans are NOT designed to protect your losses like Major Medical plans are. They are marketed as “Insurance,” but you MUST ask, is it a Credible Coverage Major Medical plan?

13 – MATERNITY – Maternity plans. Do your homework. Does your plan have an outrageous deductible for maternity? Do you have a waiting period of 12 months, 24 months, or more? How many doctors do you get to choose from “In Network” that can deliver your baby? Are you happy with the choices of Doctors in the network that will deliver your baby? What if your doctor is not on-call the night you go in for delivery?

14- MEDICATIONS – Is there a limit on how much the insurance company will pay for medications. If you become very ill, this could be a very big problem. Do your research, ask questions. Do you have a deductible on medications?

*Did you know that key information about how coverage works is not always disclosed? *When comparing plans, is the language confusing? Why is the language confusing? *Did you know that many consumers compare prices of health insurance plans, but cannot always tell if they are comparing “apples to apples.”

How to avoid Medical Bankruptcy!

According to a Harvard Law and Harvard Medical School study, they found that ½ of all bankruptcies are caused by illnesses and medical expenses. If you are a breadwinner for yourself, or breadwinner for a family or spouse, and the breadwinner gets sick, you may loose your medical coverage, and a way to pay for your day to day expenses.

When you are shopping for a health plan to protect yourself financially from medical bills and bankruptcy, there are many things to consider. Probably the most important thing is to consider is what “Type” of plan you are getting. There are several types of health plans that are available. If you buy a plan that is not “Underwritten” and is “Guaranteed Issue” you are not buying a Major Medical Plan. Major Medical plans will go through a process called “underwriting.”

Some plans will pay a certain dollar amount for a procedure, or a certain dollar amount per day while in the hospital. IT IS CRITICAL you understand the implications financially if choosing a non Major Medical plan. Your chance for greater personal losses including Bankruptcy exist with non-Major Medical plans. If you are shopping price with health insurance, and you decide on a discount or limited liability plan, YOU HAD BETTER UNDERSTAND WHAT YOUR RISKS ARE if you end up needing to use that “insurance.”