How To Choose A Health Insurance Plan
|Are you thinking about buying health insurance? With so many different alternatives, it is difficult to know which to choose.
When choosing a health insurance plan, never base your decision solely on the monthly premium. There are many other cost factors -- deductibles, co-payments, and the like -- that will determine the true price tag of your insurance. You'll need to read the fine print of the health insurance plan, including what it does and does not cover, the in-network versus out-of-network coverage and costs, claims processing procedures, and the coverage limits.
Know Your Health Care Needs
The first step is to review the scope of your needs: coverage just for yourself, for a large family, or something in between?
Next assess the health needs for all you intend to include in your health insurance plan. Are there any pre-existing conditions to consider? Does someone need to have access to certain medical specialists or medical institutions?
Research and Compare Your Options
The answers to the above questions will give you a good starting point in your search for the right health insurance plan.
Next, you need to explore your options. If you're getting group insurance through your employer, your options will be limited to what the company offers. Otherwise, you'll need to more research and comparison shopping. At a minimum, you have to understand the difference between the 2 basic types of health insurance plans offered today: the Indemnity Plan, and the Managed Care Plan with its variants.
Indemnity Plans and Managed Care
An Indemnity Plan offers the freedom to choose when and where you will seek medical assistance. Along with this freedom usually comes higher out-of-pocket costs. For many this is a fair trade-off.
Managed Care Plans are more restrictive, and require you to utilize the medical professionals and institutions that are part of the plan's "network." Participants often need pre-approval for medical services that are beyond basic preventive care. The costs for this type of plan are usually lower than Indemnity Plans. For those who are basically healthy, don't mind who provides their medical services, and who need to control medical costs, Managed Care Plans are usually the better choice.
This is a very basic comparison of the types of health insurance plans available. It is a first step in your own data gathering and analysis process.
Select The Right Company
Once you've done your homework and know what you want, you need to choose the right health insurance company. Many companies offer health insurance, from well-known corporate giants to small independent outlets. As with any major purchase, you'll want to research these companies before making a final decision.
Also, find out which state or federal agency regulates the type of health insurance you're considering, in case you have questions or experience problems.
Each type of health care plan has advantages and disadvantages. It is in your best interest to research thoroughly, so that the health plan you choose will be the right one for you and your family. For today and for years to come.
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Copyright 2005 Ron King. This article may be reprinted only if the resource box is left intact.
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