Consumers will see advertisements for cheap health insurance everywhere these days, because of the high cost of most health insurance plans. How are Americans supposed to decide whether it is worth it to switch from a more expensive plan to a cheap health insurance plan?
Unfortunately, there is no simple answer. There are, however, some guidelines to follow which can help you decide whether a cheap health insurance plan will help you save money.
Decide how much you need from your health insurance.
If you are young, healthy, and single, you probably don’t need health insurance with a great number of bells and whistles. If this is the case, it may make sense to get a cheap health insurance plan in case of unexpected illness or injury and pay routine health care costs in other ways.
Find ways to save for health care costs that may not be covered by cheap health insurance.
If you can save up in an HSA or use a cafeteria plan to reduce taxes paid on money for health care costs, it may be worth it to use a cheap health insurance plan for truly unexpected and major costs.
Compare cheap health insurance with your current medical coverage.
The easiest way to compare the coverage offered by two plans is to fold a paper in half lengthwise and list the coverage you receive for each kind of care so that one plan is on one side of the fold and the other plan is on the other side. At the bottom of each column, write the amount of the premium you would be paying for that policy.
Items to compare when deciding whether to purchase the cheap health insurance option include:
-- Coverage for annual wellness exams and other preventive treatments. If your children will be covered under the policy, you are at risk for certain cancers, diseases, or medication for management of a chronic health condition. It may be worth paying more to make sure annual physicals and vaccinations are covered.
-- What is the co-payment on office visits and prescription medications? If your budget is tight, a co-payment of $30 or $40 each to see a physician and get a medication can make it too tempting to put off going to the doctor, allowing a simple case of strep throat or influenza to become a more serious problem. A slightly higher premium may be worth it for the lower co-payment if you are in this situation.
-- What, if anything, is paid regardless of whether you have paid the deductible? Some cheap health insurance policies pay nothing at all until you have met the deductible, others only require you to pay the deductible first on major expenses like emergency or hospital care and surgeries. Also, some policies count any co-payments you have made toward your deductible, while others do not.
-- At what rate are hospitalization, emergency care, office visits, surgery, medications, dental care, and mental health covered? Many cheap insurance plans cover only illness and injury requiring hospital visits.