We have seen so much about the changes in health insurance in the news lately, but it can still be monumentally confusing to navigate all of the ins and outs of the industry. While the details of all the recent changes require far more in-depth discussion, there are a few basics we can discuss whether you are choosing from employer provided health insurance options or you are shopping on your own in the open market.
How to choose your health insurance company
Let’s take a look at the categories which appear on the report card for a basic health insurance company. You can do your own research regarding each portion and weigh for your personal needs which is the most important.
- The cost of your care – This is a huge factor for many people, the monthly or yearly cost of health insurance. But you have to carefully measure the different aspects of said cost. For example, look at the monthly premiums and deciding between major medical coverage only or including coverage for general medical expenses, high deductibles versus low deductibles, cost for in-network compared to cost of out-of-network, and “usage” costs such as co-pays per doctor’s visit.
- The accessibility of your care – If you already have your favorite physicians and care providers, you will want to look into this portion thoroughly. For example, research which hospitals and doctors are considered in-network, is there a wide selection of doctors available, are the locations convenient to your work and/or home, can you opt to see a specialist or do you need a referral, and what medications are covered.
- The quality of your care – Check out consumer feedback through independent organizations and governmental rating systems. Also make sure to ask friends and family about their experiences, as well as your own doctors and their billing staff about their experiences.
How to choose your health insurance coverage
Once you have chosen the company you are interested in, the decisions really get in-depth and more difficult. Here are a few pointers to help you decide what is the best coverage for your personal needs.
- PPO or Preferred Provider Organizations – These plans offer you the choice to stay in-network for a lower cost or to go out-of-network for a higher cost, but offer the greatest amount of flexibility.
- HMO or Health Maintenance Organizations – These plans usually have the least amount of flexibility because they require that you utilize physicians within their network.
- POS or Point-Of-Service Plans – These plans combine the two mentioned above. You will choose a primary care physician and they can refer you to an specialists needed.
Two things that will help keep the cost of the insurance premiums down is to look into a higher deductible. If you are willing to pay more out-of-pocket costs, this can lower your guaranteed monthly bills. Likewise, if you currently need several different types of insurance such as home and health, you may qualify for a multi-policy discount with some carriers.