Health insurance comes in a wide range of forms, but for a consumer, that's not always a positive attribute. The sheer number of types of health insurance coverage can make it difficult to determine which type of coverage is best for you, let alone which specific policy. As a result, some may view the insurance industry as complex and a source of far too many headaches.
A key to digesting the mass of information out there is breaking it down into smaller, more manageable sections in order to examine various features on a case-by-case basis. The following is a breakdown of your insurance options that will help you as you wade through various health insurance reviews.
Outside of major medical insurance, which may be purchased on your own or through your employer, there are a number of alternative insurance plans that can cater to your specific needs. Gap insurance, for example, is temporary medical insurance that can be purchased to provide coverage between the end of one coverage policy and the start of another.
Short-term health insurance covers a period, typically between one to 11 months depending on the needs of the individual. Short-term plans are designed for people in any number of transitional periods of life, including those who have been laid off or are otherwise between jobs and those who have insurance coverage on the horizon but need something in the interim.
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) allows workers and their families who lose health benefits, the right to continue their group health benefits for a limited period of time under certain circumstances. Individuals may be expected to pay additional premium to cover the cost of maintaining their plan. Extending your group coverage under COBRA may allow you to continue coverage for pre-existing conditions—something you might have trouble covering with other types of insurance. If you qualify for COBRA benefits and can afford the additional cost, it's wise to get more information and see whether it is a solution to your needs.
In most cases, pricing is determined by a few key factors: your physical health, your age and other life circumstances, and the level of coverage you choose. For example, a higher deductible can net you lower premiums, but you will have higher costs if you end up requiring medical care. This is consistent across many types of coverage, but the calculations used to determine your risk can vary from one provider to the next.
Prescriptions can be expensive, and prescription coverage isn't always a part of an insurance plan. Some insurance policies break out prescription coverage as a separate feature that must be purchased in addition to the base cost of the plan. Some policies also differentiate between inpatient and outpatient prescriptions, so you need to review the benefits carefully.
Some plans cover inpatient prescription drugs in addition to other eligible inpatient and outpatient charges. However, some short-term insurance plans may not cover outpatient prescription medications, so you would need to address these costs on your own.
As is the case with most features, the specific benefits covered by a health insurance policy can vary widely. This means it is important to review the specific types of benefits covered by any given plan, particularly if you are at a higher risk or anticipate needing certain types of procedures in the future. In many cases, voluntary procedures are not covered. While reconstructive surgeries are usually covered, cosmetic surgeries are rarely covered.
When you purchase a plan from an insurer, you may be restricting your medical care to doctors and hospitals that accept insurance from that plan. Some short-term medical and other types of insurance plans do not restrict you to a particular network of doctors or hospitals. Before you purchase a plan, figure out where in your area you can go to receive medical attention that is covered under the plans you are reviewing. It is also wise to make sure that those providers are currently accepting new patients. Otherwise you could be turned away and forced to find a new provider to receive coverage.
Last but not least, it is critical that you read customer reviews of current and past policy holders. While no insurance provider is without disgruntled customers, it can help provide clarity in choosing the appropriate medical plan to read customer reviews. Customer reviews can help provide insight into whether the insurer maintains an overall high standard of customer care.
It is important to find an insurer who won't force you to jump through hoops just to get what was originally promised. The fewer nightmare stories of making phone calls to different insurance representatives in hopes of clearing up clerical errors, the better. You want insurance that works for you.
The most important consideration is never to rush into buying a policy. Take time to review the terms and conditions of each policy option, and make an effort to gain a clear understanding of a policy's implications before you make the purchase. In the end, you'll be glad you took the extra time to make the right choice.