How to Find the Best Health Insurance Plan

By: Taylor

Buying a health insurance plan is not as easy as it may seem and can be quite daunting if you don’t understand which is the best health insurance policy for you. In the current market of individual health insurance, many plans will deny you coverage – or charge you more – if you have a pre-existing health condition or due to gender. That will change as of October 1, 2013. Under the Affordable Care Act provision titled “The Individual Mandate”, every citizen who is not covered by health insurance under a public (such as Medicaid or Medicare) or private (such as through an employer) health insurer must purchase health insurance, and can do so through the Health Insurance Marketplace. The Affordable Care Act also contains a Guaranteed Issue provision, which becomes effective as of January 1, 2014 and prohibits insurers from denying coverage to, or charging higher rates, to any applicant – regardless of a pre-existing condition or gender.

We highly suggest that you take a moment to read our page on the Affordable Care Act, most specifically the ‘timeline’ section. There you will find what insurers can and cannot do under the new health care law.

The first step to getting private health insurance is be sure that you do not qualify for some form of public insurance first:

The Affordable Care Act has extended the eligibility for public insurance through Medicaid and CHIP. Before purchasing private insurance, check to be sure you are not eligible for those public programs.
Be sure that you are not eligible for Medicare. Medicare covers those over the age of 65, those who are permanently disabled and receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), those with End Stage Renal Failure and those with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease). Find out more by reading our Medicare page.
When it comes to purchasing health insurance there are some very important factors to consider, such as:

In an effort to simplify and clarify health insurance, the Affordable Care Act now requires all insurers to have a uniform glossary and a same standardized summary of benefits. This will allow the consumer to compare insurance companies, their benefits, coverage and costs more effectively.
If you have recently – or about to – part ways with your employer, check into COBRA insurance, you may well qualify for continuing workplace benefits through COBRA. After the COBRA coverage runs out, insurers may be required – by law – to offer you another policy. However, this law differs from state to state.
When looking at the different policies offered by different insurers, there is a lot to take into consideration. Begin by making a list of the types of coverage you’re looking for, such as prescriptions, emergency care, hospital care, outpatient care, mental health, substance abuse, maternity, rehabilitation and habilitation, and pediatric care for instance.
Take a moment to anticipate the financial impact of a worst-case health scenario. This isn’t very pleasant, however it’s a very good idea when looking at health insurance policies. You will want to be sure that the plan will cover you and protect you against the kinds of crushing medical costs we see all the time. Take time to consider the extent to which a plan will cover the high cost of major procedures and catastrophic illnesses to measure its worth to you.
Even if you find a plan that seems right for you, continue to make comparisons. Find reviews of different policies and insurers and ensure that – should you decide to purchase the policy – that you are dealing with a reputable insurer who will offer you the best coverage and benefits at the best possible price.
Be sure to read all the fine print before purchasing your policy, health discount programs are sometimes sold under the guise of health insurance and some of these programs will not meet the standards set by the Affordable Care Act.
If this is your first time purchasing insurance, you may consider using an agent to assist you through this process. They work in the health insurance field and know all the land mines to avoid, as well how to find the right policy for you. In many cases, the same agent that helps you find auto, life and home insurance can assist you in finding the right health insurance policy for you.
If you have a good basic knowledge of insurance and can navigate through the tricky waters of coverage vs. costs then the Health Insurance Marketplace may be your best bet for individual or family insurance coverage.
As you look at each plan offered, take into consideration the plan’s potential total costs – such as monthly premium, deductibles, copayment, and coinsurance. It’s not wise to just look at the plans premiums, additional fees as well as annual out-of-pocket maximum should also be taken into consideration.

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