If you have been shopping for health insurance lately, you will soon be up to your neck in health insurance quotes. These quotes are basically bids for your business from various health insurance companies, all operating on the assumption that you will choose the bidder who charges the lowest premium.
As a savvy consumer, however, you know that the policy with the lowest premium will not necessarily be the best option for yourself and your family. Deciding which policy is the best can be complicated, even for the well-informed. So how do you sort through the deluge of health insurance quotes to find the best option for you?
Know Your Needs
If you are relatively young and healthy, do not have a family history of chronic or mental illness, and are purchasing health insurance only for yourself, your health insurance will be needed primarily for preventive and accidental injury care. When looking at a health insurance quote, therefore, you will want to focus on the out-of-pocket cost for annual wellness exams and emergency hospital services.
If, however, you or members of your close family have a history of chronic or recurrent illness, you are going to want to make sure that the services needed for these treatments will be covered. When evaluating health insurance quotes, check for pharmaceutical coverage, outpatient therapy coverage, and pre-existing condition exclusions. It may well be worth a higher premium to have these conditions covered.
Examine Your Options
When choosing a health insurance plan, your health insurance policy should not be the only product you consider. When you have selected a few health insurance quotes that will cover the basics, consider flexible spending accounts, health savings accounts, or other savings tools available to you. Take some time to crunch the numbers and determine which combination of insurance policy and savings strategies will serve your family best.
Flexible spending accounts, also called cafeteria health savings plans, are a great way to eliminate tax payments on money you know you will have to spend for health care. These plans can help you pay for what is not covered under policy, co-payments on annual wellness visits, for instance, medication for chronic conditions, or routine care and testing such as dental cleanings, mammograms, and cholesterol screening. When you consider the tax savings of such a plan, a health insurance quote with a higher premium may seem much more reasonable.
If you can set up a health savings account (HSA) for an amount at least equal to the deductible on the policy, you may find even more workable options in the pile of health insurance quotes. If you can set aside money in one of these special accounts, you may be able to afford a high-deductible plan with a much lower premium, even if you are not certain you will meet the deductible in a given year.
Creatively Combine Quotes
Just because you are married, have children, or both does not mean that you should only consider health insurance quotes for family policies. You may be able to get low-cost policies for dependent children for less than it would cost to add them to a policy under your name. Also, you may be able to get a self-plus-one policy for yourself and one child, while your spouse gets a similar policy covering a second child; this may cost less than a traditional family policy and remove risk factors from one parent from consideration in the cost of covering the child listed on the other parent’s policy.
Most importantly, do not buy health insurance until you have had an opportunity to read through the details of a policy. If you receive a health insurance quote, but cannot get access to the details of the policy, you can assume that the policy will not meet your needs.