Buying health insurance is one thing, but buying the best health insurance for you can be tricky, especially when there are so many options and so many factors to consider. Before you get health insurance, you will probably want to create a health insurance comparison sheet. You can break down each plan by cost and benefit. Below are some important constituents that make up health insurance plans.
Important items to consider when buying health insurance:
- The hospital and physicians that are in the network of the plan you choose.
- You can start your health insurance comparison by asking yourself if you have a favorite hospital or physician. You'll want to make sure they are included in the network of any plan you consider purchasing.
- Doctor visit copay.
- When you get health insurance, a number that will often come into play is your plan's copay. The copay is the amount you will pay each time you visit the doctor.
- Prescription benefit and copay.
- Some plans do not include prescription drug benefits-you'll want to keep this in mind while you make your health insurance comparison. If coverage is included, the copay is the amount you will pay per prescription. The copay often differs depending on whether the drug is generic, preferred, or brand name. Before buying health insurance, you should calculate your current and estimated future cost of medications and determine your best value.
- Annual deductible.
- This is the annual amount of medical expenses that you are responsible for before your insurance begins paying. Usually, prescription drug copays mentioned above do not go towards this deductible.
- Another factor you will want to consider in your health insurance comparison is the plan's coinsurance--the amount your carrier expects you to pay toward your medical expenses-typically this is 20-30% for in-network providers. The coinsurance amount is typically 20% high for out-of-network providers. The coinsurance maximum is the limit on how much coinsurance you might have to pay each year.
- Out of pocket annual maximum.
- Buying health insurance will always involve some amount of out of pocket maximum. The out of pocket maximum is the most you will be expected to incur annually. It is the sum of your deductible and maximum coinsurance amount.
- Lifetime maximum coverage.
- After you get health insurance, your plan will pay out a certain amount over your lifetime. Typically this number is $1 million to $5 million. With the high cost of medical care it can be beneficial to have a higher coverage amount.
- Perhaps the most basic number to consider before buying health insurance, your premium is the amount you must pay each month for your policy. Premium is impacted by all of the attributes above. For instance, if you get a health insurance plan with a higher deductible policy, your premium will be lower, but you will have to pay more money out of pocket before your insurance kicks in.
- HSA Qualified Plans.
- HSA's are high deductible health plans which enable you to put money aside pre tax to pay for certain medical expenses. Most people like to weigh the costs and benefits of HSA's in their health insurance comparison.
Remember, it is one thing to get health insurance, but it is another to be sure you are purchasing the best available plan. If you have any questions about any of the above factors, a broker can walk you through each item.