You can get health insurance in so many different places and health insurance plans come in so many different shapes that it’s a little bewildering choosing a health insurance plan. If you don’t get medical insurance through your employer, getting health insurance becomes a whole lot more complicated. But you can learn a lot searching through the internet and reading about other patients’ experiences. You’ll also be able to talk to health insurance brokers can tell you about good health insurance plans.
Instead of telling you where to get your health insurance, I’m going to tell you how to go about getting good health insurance and lay out the major types of health insurance networks out there. Everyone has different medical insurance needs, so no one answer, insurance provider or insurance plan is going to work for every patient or family. So here are things to keep in mind when getting health insurance.
8 Health Insurance Tips
Everyone has different medical insurance needs, so no one answer, insurance provider or insurance plan is going to work for every patient or family. So here are 8 health insurance tips.
- Group Insurance Plan – If you have the option, sign up for your employer’s group health insurance plan. Company insurance is going to be the cheapest insurance plan you can buy, because you get the group rate. If you are a self-employed contractor or you’re a small business owner, this option won’t be open to you. You’ll have to find other ways to get good health insurance.
- Get COBRA Coverage – Those who have recently left a job which provided you with health insurance under a group plan might qualify for continuing health insurance coverage. If you retired, were laid off or fired by your employer, it’s possible you and your family can qualify for continuing coverage for up to 18 months under provisions of the Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1985 (generally known as C.O.B.R.A.). You’re former employer won’t pay their part of the insurance premium, but you’re still likely to pay less and have better insurance coverage than if you signed up for a single-payer insurance plan. Check out our Cobra health insurance page to learn more.
- Look at Fee-For-Service Plans – “Fee-For-Service” is a term where a person controls which doctor they see and whether they need to see a specialist. At the same time, the insurance premiums are bigger and your out-of-pocket expenses are typically higher under the fee for service health insurance plans. Just imagine this is greater freedom, but a bigger price.
- Managed Health Care – “Managed health care” describes one of three different types of health insurance plans where you trade flexibility for better prices. The health insurance provider has certain preferred doctors they make bargains with, so you get cheaper health care by agreeing to go to these particular doctors. Some patients chafe under these stipulations.
- HMO Managed Health Care – Probably the most famous (or infamous) managed health care plans. HMOs restrict the insured the most of all plans, but is the least expensive health care option. HMO plans generally require a patient to see their primary physician before seeing a specialist, so this can become a point of conflict. The HMO also has the smallest number of choices regarding doctors. On the positive side, HMO users pay the smallest premiums and often have no copayments.
- PPO Managed Health Care – Preferred Provider Organizations, also known as PPOs, are at the other end of the spectrum from HMO organizations. For instance, a patient does not need prior permission to see a specialist. Also, the PPO patient can go outside the PPO network to see a doctor, though the copayment will be significantly higher. If you stay within the PPO list of doctors, you’ll pay lower co-pays. All in all, the PPO co-pays and premiums are more expensive than the HMO costs.
- POS Managed Health Care – Point-Of-Service or POS managed health care organizations which split the difference between the HMO and PPO. The PPO lets you see a doctor outside of the Point-of-service network like a PPO network, while you have to have your primary care doctor refer you to a specialist before you can get specialist treatment.
Choosing a Health Insurance Provider
When you start to search for choosing a health insurance provider, you need to figure out what exactly you are looking for in your health insurance. Do you want flexibility? Are you searching for the lowest costs in your health insurance plan? Is there some middle ground in which a PPO network or POS network might be the best option?
Research all the options and see how restrictive they are. Also, compare the costs of each and figure out which costs sound like the health insurance costs you can afford and contrast those of the costs in the case of a catastrophic health care situation and the freedom to choose you own doctor or specialist.
Finally, no matter which health insurance provider you choose, make sure to choose one. Any of the options mentioned above is absolutely a better choice than deciding to have no health insurance coverage. You’re placing a major bet that you aren’t going to have a sudden medical condition or a major accident, and that’s a wager that you will eventually lose. So get health insurance coverage somewhere.