Choosing what kind of health insurance to buy is one of the most important decisions you can make as the head of a household.
Health insurance plays a significant role in the access you and your loved ones have to medical care and the overall well being of your family. It's worth every penny, but, it doesn't necessarily have to cost you an arm and a leg.
There are all kinds of health plans out there that offer affordable solutions and can fit all of your health needs - it's just up to you to find them! This is a lot easier than you might think.
Here's the simple 5-step process to follow when it's time to select health plans.
1. Assess Your Needs
First things first, before you get overwhelmed comparing a bunch of different plans and premiums, think about what you and your loved ones really need. Write down all the names of everyone in your immediate family and list all the health conditions they may have that will need medical attention in the upcoming year.
Think about their pre-existing conditions as well as anything that is likely to change in their health in the near future. Children, for example, maybe coming up at an age when they'll need a new set of vaccinations and flu shots. On the other hand, any elderly family members under your roof might need life insurance in addition to health insurance.
It's also important to remember that you can't predict everything. It's not like you can know for sure if someone is about to break a bone or need stitches, or if they'll contract a serious disease. As such, it's usually better to opt for more extensive health plans if they're available to you and yours.
2. Set a Budget
The thing about more extensive health plans is that they tend to be more expensive. But, that doesn't mean they're out of your price range! The best way to know for sure is to set a budget.
Crunching the numbers helps you understand what you can really pay for insurance every year and where all your money is going. It makes you pay attention to things like premium rates and the amount of interest on each plan.
More so, figuring out your budget for medical expenses puts a new perspective on what the cost of paying for medical treatments would be like without insurance. If you're risk-averse with your personal finances, it's definitely better to invest in health insurance and not need it than to need it and not have it.
3. Compare Different Providers
Once you have an idea of what you really need and what price range you need it for, you can start narrowing down your health plan options. A great way to begin is to decide which health insurance provider you'd like to purchase a plan from.
Comparing insurance providers is great if you already have an established relationship with your family's healthcare practitioners. You want to be sure that your new insurance is still accepted by your go-to dentist, orthodontist, eye doctor, pediatrician, and general physician.
After all, it'd be a shame to complete the process of choosing the right health insurance only to have to go back and find a whole new set of doctors! If you're not sure which networks/providers your regular doctors accept, you can do one of two things.
The first is to reach out to each one individually and double-check what kind of insurance they take. The second is to compare all the in-network providers listed on different health insurance plans.
4. Decide If You Want an Individual or Shared Plan
Here's another thing you have to consider when purchasing new health plans for the whole family: do you want everyone to have their own health insurance or do you want to have one shared plan?
There are pros and cons to each plan. Having dependents is smart if you and your spouse plan to share a health insurance plan and you have a lot of kids. If you, your parents, and your children all live under one roof, though, having a few separate plans may be best.
5. Explore Your Options to Select Health Plans
The final part of the search process is to assess the health plans available to you. Health plans generally come in 4 different forms. They are:
- Health Maintenance Organization (HMO)
- Preferred Provider Organization (PPO)
- Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO)
- Point of Service Plan (POS)
Each health plan has its own unique set of eligibility requirements and restrictions. Keep in mind that some of your family members may be eligible for some and not others. Be sure to think about things like medical referrals that you may need, the ability to get coverage when you go out of network, and what you're expected to pay out of pocket.
Every little detail matters. Give yourself plenty of time to make an informed decision. The more you check and double-check what you're about to invest in, the better the outcome will be for your whole family.
Understanding All Your Options and Making the Best Choice
At the end of the day, the best way to select health plans is to be informed. You have to educate yourself about what's out there and what your family really needs.
It might be a good idea to do one more medical check-up for everyone in the family on your current insurance before investing in a new one. It's also smart to ask extended family and local friends about the insurance they have and why they chose what they did.
For more health insurance insights to make your selection process easier, click here.