One of the largest expenses that Americans incur - outside of their homes, student loans and cars - is health insurance. Choosing an insurance plan is one of the most important things you will do.
Insurance helps you avoid debt caused by medical bills. Millions of Americans file bankruptcy every year because of extremely high medical bills they cannot afford to pay. Having insurance significantly reduces the portion of payment you owe. It is imperative to thoroughly understand your plan before signing up for it. Know your plan's max-payout, your premiums, your co-pays, and all of the other details specific to your plan.
While you may look forward to sifting through the paperwork as much as you do a root canal, at least that paperwork might help you pay for a root canal.
Many employers provide insurance in some form to their employees. There are a plethora of insurance plans out there, and most likely, you will have options to choose from within the plan your employer has provided. Take the time to thoroughly understand the different plans.
If you are on your company's insurance plan, here are a few questions you may have:
How do I choose the right plan?
Most likely, you will have options when signing up for your medical insurance. Be aware that there usually is not a "better" option. Which plan you choose depends on your needs. If you only go to the doctor once or twice a year, the basic plan would probably suit your needs.
Generally, if you are young and healthy, then a plan with lower premiums and higher co-pays will work. However, if you have a chronic illness, are older or if you have dependent children who visit the doctor more regularly, you want a plan with lower co-pays and higher premiums.
I want to change parts of my plan. Can I do that?
Most insurance plans can only be modified at the open enrollment period or during a qualifying life event such as marriage, divorce or the birth of a child. Open enrollment usually happens once a year.
This is why it is so important to thoroughly understand your policy before electing coverage. Once you are signed up, you are usually stuck with that plan for the entire year.
Why are so many plans pushing preventative care?
More frequently, preventative care such as yearly physicals, immunizations for young children, mammograms, PSA and PAP tests are covered by insurance companies at 100 percent, no deductible. This is because early detection is not only good for you, but early diagnosis can be beneficial for the insurance company as well.
If a disease is caught early, it can cost less for the insurance company. For instance, if you find out you have high blood pressure and cholesterol; you can be treated for that with medicine, which could prevent more serious outcomes such as a heart attack. This is good for both the patient and the insurance company. You both pay less, and you stay healthier.
Ask your human resources department if you have questions. That is why they are there. Or, you can call your insurance carrier directly. They all have customer service numbers and representatives who can explain your plan to you.