More consumers are purchasing individual health insurance than ever before, and with the federal individual mandate starting in 2014, those without coverage will have to apply for the first time. Where should they begin?
For a lot of people, this is a really scary thought,” says Brandon Cruz, founder of GoHealthInsurance.com. “For their entire lives they’ve never had to think about the right health insurance for them, they simply had what their employer provided or went without coverage completely. But soon, if not already, they’ll need to pick an individual plan, and there are a lot of things to consider when choosing.”
Many common mistakes are made that can result in additional costs, Cruz says, so before settling on a plan, consider the following:
- Picking the plan with the highest deductible, lowest monthly costs. Plans with a large deductible always seem like an attractive option because of the low monthly premiums, Cruz says. However, if someone cannot meet the deductible in case of an emergency or illness, then the person will be stuck with a large bill. When choosing a plan, people should ask themselves whether they would be able to cover the deductible immediately in case of an emergency. If they can’t cover it, they should consider a lower deductible.
- Not purchasing maternity coverage when pregnancy is a possibility. Maternity coverage isn’t covered in every health-insurance plan, Cruz says. If couples are considering pregnancy in the near future or could possibly get pregnant, then maternity coverage is a must.
- Choosing a plan with high co-payments, coinsurance rates for healthcare services and prescriptions. Almost every health-insurance plan requires a co-payment at the time of a healthcare visit, so find a plan with an affordable co-payment. Co-payments vary for physician visits, prescriptions and hospital services, but a set amount of payment is always required. Coinsurance rates get really expensive for surgeries and hospital visits, since patients are required to pay a percentage of the rendered services, and the rate varies.
- Picking a health-insurance plan without ensuring current doctors are included in the network. Many individuals may not realize that their doctor is no longer covered under a new plan before switching, Cruz says. But if people have a family doctor or a preference, then they should either choose a plan that includes the doctor in the network or find a plan with flexible coverage.
- Purchasing all the coverage from one company. People often assume that getting all their coverage from the same company will save them money, but this isn’t always the case. Also, money isn’t the only factor to consider, so compare policies from a number of companies to find the one that best suits medical and financial needs.