When buying individual health insurance there are tools you can use to ensure you receive the best health insurance coverage for your money. However, the very first thing you should do is educate yourself on health insurance, so you will be educated on insurance jargon. You cannot make a decent decision if you do not understand the terms!
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Although some health insurance policies offer a period in which the coverage can be cancelled, many do not. It is imperative that you research individual health insurance to ensure you receive the best plan for you.
What is the first thing I should do when buying individual health insurance?
The first thing you should do when buying individual health insurance is to educate yourself on insurance terms. If you do not know insurance jargon, there is no way you can make an educated decision about health insurance policies.
You can learn a lot about insurance industry terms from IRMI.com.
Review these terms and write down the ones that sound like you would want them as part of your insurance plan. If there are some terms that you do not understand, ask an insurance agent or broker. You do not have to buy a policy from them to obtain help on insurance terms.
Why should I look at my state’s insurance website?
The next thing you should do according to Kimberly Lankford, author of “The Insurance Maze: How You Can Save Money on Insurance and Still Get the Coverage You Need” (Kaplan Business, 2006) is to review your state’s individual insurance website. For example, Florida’s website has an entire section for consumer help.
Each state’s individual insurance website provides information regarding:
- Insurance companies within your state
- Quotes for various medical plans
- Alternatives to private insurance plans that you may qualify depending on your income
What should I look for in a health insurance policy?
You are the only one that can determine what you should look for in a health insurance policy. Everyone has different needs when it comes to medical health and finances, so your decision should be tailored to your budget and needs.
Write down what you like in your current health insurance policy. If you do not have one, write down what you think you want in an insurance policy. Refer back to your list of insurance terms. Also, speak to a trusted friend or family member and get advice from them on insurance. Then, speak to an agent or a broker regarding a policy.
Determine if you can afford high deductibles, co-payments, or out of pocket expenses. You can calculate what you can and cannot afford by writing out a budget or using a health care calculator like the ones on Money-Zine.com.
Regardless of the plan you choose, it should be a major medical plan. These plans are more comprehensive and cover the expected and unexpected in medical expenses. Major medical plans cover:
- A minimum of routine visits
- Laboratory testing
- Preventive care
- Emergency services
If you are of childbearing age, you should also make sure your plan includes maternity. You may not be planning to get pregnant and still find yourself in the labor and delivery room of a hospital. Maternity wards and neo-natal care for an infant can be quite costly.
How can I determine my broker or agent is trustworthy?
When shopping for health insurance, you need to be sure your insurance broker or agent is trustworthy. Just because the individual was recommended to you does not necessarily mean he or she is a knowledgeable agent.
Check the individual out with the National Association of Health Underwriters or the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. You should also look at the agency’s reputation on the Better Business Bureau’s website.
The agent or broker should take the time to answer and ask many questions to determine the best policy for your health care needs. In addition, agents or brokers whom can sell from a large book of business can offer you many different policy choices with many different insurance companies.
You can also compare health insurance ratesby entering your zip code into the free box on this page now!