More Americans purchase their own health insurance, but that can be a tough operation. There are ways to make sure that you understand what you are purchasing, and you are getting the product that is right for you.
But take heart — even for the professionals health insurance can be tricky. Below are a few suggestions which will help you find the right strategy.
Figure out where and when you need to enroll
Depending on where you live, you can either shop for insurance through the federal markets at HealthCare.gov or the marketplace in your state. The open enrollment for the federal exchange lasts until mid-December. But if you live in a state that lasts its own marketplace, you may have more time.
Review plan options, even if you like your current one
It is very important for people who are already enrolled in an ACA program to log in and search if there’s a better deal. This is even if you’re satisfied with your current plan. It can be tempting to skip the entire enrollment rigmarole, particularly because if you do nothing during open enrollment you’ll only get rolled into the same plan or a similar plan. Every year, there can be all sorts of adjustments impacting the kinds of available plans and the costs of such plans. New insurers have joined the industry this year, for example, and rates in some states have gone down. It is still worth logging in and checking to see what’s changed for you and whether mixing things up makes sense.
Compare estimated yearly costs, not just monthly premiums
When comparing plans, it’s easy to concentrate on the monthly premium rate, but don’t forget to remember other costs too. When you look at plans, the premium price is displayed prominently but look at certain costs as well. A calculator available on HealthCare.gov and other state marketplaces can measure for you the “estimated average annual costs”. Annual cost forecasts can be a very useful method to select a program. Try to find out the math can be a little complicated, particularly for people who are not as familiar with insurance coverage.
Consider how much health care you use
Choosing the correct insurance plan means predicting how many health issues you are likely to face in the coming year, which may have an effect on how premiums break down. Your age is typically a useful indicator for this. But there are also a number of unknowns, such as a sudden diagnosis of cancer or a car accident. You may want to ask, ‘Do I pay a little more in a monthly premium per month, realizing that this will mean fewer out – of-pocket costs when and if I need more medical care?‘ versus — the other way around — ‘Let me pay a lower monthly premium because I don’t really expect that I need a lot of coverage. But I know if anything very bad happens I will have this health insurance.’
Leverage what you know about your health needs amid those unknowns. Whether you’ve got a doctor you want, or if you think you’re going to take a prescription medication, look for a package that will cover it. HealthCare.gov allows you to add your doctor and your prescription medications while reviewing options to see if they are covered. Another way to find out is to contact the doctors and ask them what plans they are considering,
Beware too-good-to-be-true plans
If you see a good offer online, see to it that you are looking at an ACA contract. When you search for online health insurance, you can stumble on short-term plans which advertise much lower monthly premiums, but do not cover the famous ten essential benefits of the ACA. Which involve some very significant stuff like prenatal care and treatment for mental well being.
Often consumers in federal and state marketplaces may find good offers on premiums. But if one offer stands out as being too good to be true, read the fine print.
Get free help from the pros
There are still people qualified and ready to sign up to people around the world-free of charge.
You can call for help seeking to see a health insurance navigator or a professional application advisor in person. Importantly, these are people who are unbiased to whom you can consider the best health insurance plan.
Much like auto insurance, you pay for health insurance, and hope you never need it. But when you do, it’s better to know that you’ve got a program that deals with the unforeseen health care costs.
Health insurance does give you peace of mind, though, that you have a buffer between your bank account and rising medical costs. Do not wait until you or a member of your family falls ill until you consider the right plan for you.
The basic thumb rule goes something like this: “Pick a package you can afford. This should come with a premium that also covers the doctors and medications you want and need.”