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Where can I compare health insurance?

smartphone in handThere are many online sites, such as this one, that allow you to compare health insurance rates across a range of health insurance companies doing business in your area. However, you first need to figure out your own individual needs and assess just how much health insurance coverage you need for yourself and any dependents.

When you’re ready, enter your zip code above and we’ll help you find health insurance rates from insurance companies in your area!

Health insurance plans and policies come in a wide variety of coverage choices, with options for which you can choose to pay more. You may qualify for plans through your employer, or need to purchase one on your own. If you’re a member of a professional association or membership organization, you might even do better buying your health insurance through them.

How do I determine what health insurance I need?

The best way to do this is to make an old-fashioned list, using pen and paper or a software spreadsheet on the computer. Figure out, using past medical records and bills, how often you see your doctor, how often you need a specialist, what kind of prescription medication you currently use or have used in the past, what annual exams you should be having, any immunizations that need to be updated, how often you have x-rays or blood work done, etc.

Next, figure out your budget and how much of it has been used on anything health-related in the past. Include prescription and over-the-counter medication costs, as well as preventative care like flu shots. You should even factor in the wages lost when you’ve been out with an ailment or because one of your children is sick. While you are at it, figure in your dental and vision care costs as well, as these are sometimes included in a health insurance policy and sometimes need to be purchased as separate coverage.

If you are purchasing an individual or family plan direct from a health insurance company, now’s the time to speak to an insurance agent to see what plans out there fit these needs and budget. You may decide to go with a basic, no-frills type of HMO plan, or a more expensive health insurance policy that lets you see any doctor you want at any time. If you are employed and lucky enough to have a choice of providers through your job, speak to your HR or benefits representative to figure out which plan is right for you.

Is a Health Savings Account a good idea for health insurance?

Health Savings Accounts, also known as HSAs and flexible healthcare accounts, allow people a tax-deferred way to save for healthcare costs. To find out more about HSAs, you can read through the official guide from the IRS, “Health Savings Accounts and Other Tax-Favored Health Plans.”   This guide will explain the difference between various “tax favored” savings plans out there, including the HSA, MSA, FSA, and HRA.

If you choose to participate in an HSA, your employer will deduct pre-tax dollars from your paycheck and deposit them in the HSA. The employer may also choose to add money to your HSA, if that is part of your company benefits package. The saved money is then used for future medical expenses, including premiums, dental, and vision expenses. The HSA is subject to maximum annual benefits and minimum deductible guidelines. Talk to your financial advisor or your company representative for more information.

If I cannot afford health insurance, is there any way I can still get it?

Rising health insurance rates are a hot topic of debate in the U.S. these days and everybody has heard stories of people in hard-luck situations where they’ve been forced to choose between buying groceries and paying the medical bills. Even basic health insurance is not enough to protect us from catastrophic illnesses and the costs associated with them.

To address this, President Obama and Congress have introduced various ideas and measures so that millions of unemployed citizens aren’t left without healthcare coverage. While the different sides fight over what they think is the best solution, you still need protection for yourself and any dependents. Many states offer a hotline through their Insurance Departments, which you can call to get questions answered. For instance, if you live in North Carolina, you can email or call Smart NC.

If you’ve only recently become unemployed, your previous employer should have told you about any COBRA available, by which you can pay to extend your previous health coverage for up to 18 months. You might also look into purchasing short-term health insurance coverage. As its name implies, short-term coverage is only meant for insurance between jobs or until you find another policy. It is often administered for just six months.

At the very least, if you have children you’ll want to make sure that they have medical coverage. Some children qualify for protection through Medicaid. You should also check to see if your city or state offers any kind of health plan for children under 19 years old. Many do, and it is usually free or at minimal cost. For instance, New York City has coverage for children through its Department of Social Services.

If you want to see health insurance quotes in your area, just put your zip code in the box below!