When it comes to health insurance, there are no one-size-fits-all plans.
You need to research your options before making your decision, or you could end up paying more than you really need to or receive fewer benefits than you expect.
Let’s look at some important things to consider when choosing health insurance to make sure you find the best coverage for your needs.
When should I get health insurance?
Even if you’re young and healthy, it makes sense to consider buying a plan.
Few of us are able to anticipate medical expenses that could happen in a matter of weeks or months—and it’s those big, unexpected costs that drive people into debt and bankruptcy.
The decision is even easier if you have children (or other dependents) because someone else is depending on your income as well.
The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that a family policy costs about $13,375 per year.
That’s not cheap but seems like a small price to pay for financial peace of mind—especially when you consider how much hospitals charge when they don’t get paid at all.
Health Insurance For People Between Jobs
If you are between jobs, you have a limited time to apply for medical coverage through COBRA.
COBRA is short for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act and it allows employees who have recently lost their job (or, in some cases, had their hours reduced) to continue their existing health care coverage through a former employer’s group plan.
This makes it possible for many individuals to keep their benefits in place while they search for new employment.
Learn more about how COBRA works, how much it costs and when your coverage ends by reading our summary below.
If you’re not familiar with your options under COBRA but believe that you may be eligible, reach out as soon as possible to your HR department or contact your state government’s workers’ compensation department.
Individual Health Insurance Under Obamacare
Insurance companies are required to accept you and cannot deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
The exchanges also have more consumer protections than individual insurance policies currently on offer.
For example, there is a list of essential health benefits that all plans must cover, such as hospitalization, mental healthcare and maternity care.
A study by WalletHub found that the average cost of an individual health plan in 2017 is $412 per month.
The government offers tax credits to subsidize premiums, though they’re less generous if you make more than 400 percent of federal poverty level (about $48,000 for one person).
For many people under Obamacare, Medicaid may be a better option because it has lower premiums and no deductibles or co-pays.
Small Business Health Insurance Plans
There are many types of small business healthcare plans. Most employers choose between two major options: a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) or an Independent Practice Association (IPA).
Each one has its pros and cons. It is important to weigh your choices carefully.
Do you want more control over your medical treatment? If so, then an IPA may be better suited for you than a PPO.
Do you want to save money on annual premiums? Then maybe a PPO will give you more value for your investment.
which health insurance is best for me quiz
To figure out which plan is right for you, you’ll want to ask yourself these questions: How much do I make? Can I afford to pay a higher premium? Do I want a high deductible? If so, what amount would I be comfortable with? Will it make more sense to get health insurance through my employer or directly from an insurer? Whichever option is best will depend on your personal finances.
Under federal law, employers are required to offer their employees access to affordable healthcare.
However, they can decide how much of that cost is going towards premiums and how much is going towards co-pays and deductibles.
It’s important to know exactly what your portion of those costs are going toward so you can evaluate each plan fairly.
compare health insurance plans calculator
When looking at different plans, there are a few different questions you want to consider: Are they affordable? Will they cover things like prescription drugs, dental and vision care? And how much do you want your deductible—the amount of money you have to pay out-of-pocket before your plan covers anything? Some people don’t need more than emergency-room coverage and $500 in total out-of-pocket costs per year.
For those people, an HMO might be a great choice. Others may be willing to pay a little more each month in exchange for better coverage later on.
This decision is personal—there isn’t necessarily one best type of insurance for everyone.
best affordable health insurance
The two most affordable options are short-term coverage, which can last from three months to a year, and hospital indemnity plans. Short-term plans are less expensive than traditional health insurance because they offer fewer benefits. Hospital indemnity plans aren’t intended as stand-alone coverage.
Instead, they’re meant to cover your costs when you use inpatient services — they won’t pay any benefits if you go out of network or try to visit an urgent care clinic instead of going straight to a hospital ER or doctor’s office.
The downside: Many people have preexisting conditions that would make them ineligible for hospital indemnity coverage — plus, these policies often require patients pay more upfront and wait longer before seeking reimbursement.
best individual health insurance
When it comes to finding great individual health insurance, there are several different factors that need consideration.
The first thing you need to do is figure out your budget—if you’re self-employed or employed by a small company, chances are you don’t have access to a large group policy with lower premiums.
You’ll most likely be on your own when it comes time to shop around and choose a plan.
Another thing you want to look at is coverage: Does your new plan include prescription drugs? What about mental healthcare coverage?
how to find out what health insurance i have
You’ve probably noticed that every time you go to a doctor, receive a medical procedure or fill your prescription, you’re asked about whether you have health insurance.
You can answer yes when it comes to these services and still not be insured — you could pay out of pocket and get reimbursed.
But some people want or need more comprehensive coverage. If so, read on: In 2013, most Americans will be required by law to maintain health insurance coverage that meets minimum standards outlined in Affordable Care Act legislation signed into law in 2010 by President Barack Obama.
best health insurance for self-employed
When you are self-employed, it can be tough to figure out what type of medical coverage is right for you.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has changed things quite a bit when it comes to choosing a medical plan.
It’s more important than ever that you shop around and understand your options because medical costs aren’t set in stone.
If your employer provided you with benefits when you were an employee, there’s a good chance that their plan was far better than anything else available on the market today.
Self-employed individuals no longer have access to group rates, however, so cost comparisons are a crucial part of healthcare shopping if you’re uninsured or looking for a new plan.