Michigan Association of Health Plans

7 Smart Tips for Choosing a Health Insurance Plan

In 2018, the percentage of Americans with a health care plan was 91.5 percent. While this rate was lower than that of the previous year (92.1 percent), it still shows how seriously Americans take health insurance.

So how do you go about choosing a health plan that works for you? The truth is there are numerous options when it comes to health insurance plans, which makes it that much harder to figure out the differences when shopping around.

If you’ve been looking for the ideal health care plan for you and your loved ones, we’ve prepared a friendly guide to help you out. Below are seven tips on how to pick a health insurance plan.

1. Determine the Coverage Limits when Choosing a Health Plan

While comparing different health care plans, look at the amount each plan can pay to cover your medical expenses. The best plans do not have a lifetime benefit maximum

Don’t let a high limit scare you away. In case you face a catastrophic health condition such as cancer, you’ll be shocked how fast you reach that limit. Currently, most recent laws prohibit lifetime benefit maximums.

2. Consider Out-Of-Pocket Costs

Each year, you’re going to have to pay a certain amount out-of-pocket before the insurance comes in. That amount is referred to as your annual deductible. Your insurance provider may even require you to pay your deductible before they cover routine office visits.

Some health care plans ask for a copayment for all office visits, but that amount isn’t counted towards your deductible. Your copayment refers to the amount you pay after paying the deductible.

3. Find the Total of Your Maximum Costs

The next tip on how to get health insurance that works for you is to calculate the total amount you’ll be paying for the plan. That includes the monthly premiums, coinsurance costs, and copayments. This helps you know whether you’ll be able to afford the policy comfortably.

For people with chronic conditions or whose health is poor, the ideal health insurance may be the one with more coverage and a higher premium. Those in good health can opt for policies with average or lower premiums.

That said, it’s good to know that the best policy is not necessarily the least expensive one. During your search for an ideal health care plan, don’t forget to include plans that your employer offers.  

4. Consider High-Deductible Plans

Currently, many employers provide high deductible health plans, also known as HDHPs. These policies have lower premiums but higher deductibles.

Employees enrolled in HDHPs can open a Health Savings Account where they can deposit pre-tax dollars. That money can be used to pay for those health care costs that are eligible.

So who is eligible for a HDHP? Well, people with a deductible of $6,900 for the individual and $13,800 for the family are eligible in 2020. Once you get enrolled in this healthcare plan, you need to save enough money so as to cover your deductible.

5. Optimize Your Health Insurance

As soon as you find a plan that you think you are interested in, make the most of it. Go through the benefits booklet. What are the rates that are charged for the different services? 

For instance, the policy may cover an x-ray at an urgent care center, but not when your physician orders one that’s to be done at a separate lab. Learn what the policy covers before major medical procedures such as giving birth.

The best move as you ponder how to pick health insurance is to limit ER and urgent care visits. Instead, visit your doctor. 

Keenly review all the medical bills that you get and promptly dispute any errors that arise. Often, the process can be a lengthy one, but it’s your right to ensure that you’re billed correctly.

6. Check Whether the Policy Includes Your Doctor

Some of the health insurance policies you encounter during your search require that you only use the physicians within their network. But what if you have a doctor who you’d like to continue seeing? The best course of action is to verify whether your physician is included in the policy you’re considering.

In case your doctor is not part of the network, you may want to look for another policy that includes them. However, if you really like the health care plan you’re looking at, then you can choose a new physician from the health plan.

Before settling on a new doctor, check their credentials online by reading their reviews. The American Medical Association (AMA) is another excellent source of information when it comes to doctors. Besides qualifications and experience, availability and location are two important factors as you decide which doctor to work with.

Inquire what hours the doctor’s facility is open. Should the need arise, can you get help by calling the state farm phone number?

7. Check the Additional Services Offered in the Plan

The final tip on how to choose a health plan is to take a look at what additional services the policy covers. Some health care plans provide such extra services as counseling, drug rehabilitation, hospice, chiropractic care, experimental treatments, and alternative treatments. 

Other policies also provide coverage in the event of mental illness or for people who need home nursing care.

There are policies like long-term care and critical illness insurance that may interest you as you assess your health plan options. These constitute supplemental health insurance.

Get It Right While Choosing a Health Care Plan

The cost of medical treatments can be very high, which is why it’s essential to have health insurance for you and your loved ones. Unfortunately, health care plans vary wildly when it comes to coverage, cost, and other features. This is what makes choosing a health plan that’s perfect for you easier said than done.

The best way to make an informed decision is to look at your individual health needs, medical history, and resources.

This article appeared in The Daily Campus. Read more here.