Buying health insurance can seem like a confusing and scary task, but it doesn’t have to be. It is important though that you understand all of the health insurance options currently available to you.
It is true that acquiring health insurance can a complicated process. Still, you don’t have to do it alone. It is a lot simpler than you may realize if you use an online information navigator, like Healthcare.gov, or consult with an insurance agent. Consider the following:
About 12.4% of all Americans are uninsured at any given moment. That is the equivalent of almost 30 million individuals.
Over 65% of Americans under the age of 65 have some form of private insurance.
Only about 26% of Americans are enrolled in some form of publicly subsidized health insurance. That is a very low number considering that many Americans who are unemployed, underemployed, uninsured or underinsured may meet the requirements for enrollment.
Worse, a lot Americans don’t even try to look for health insurance coverage on their own, even if they desperately need it. They just assume that they won’t be able to afford a coverage plan. In life, it never pays to assume. Especially when it comes to your health. It is important that you learn about all of the health insurance options that are currently available to you. There is no reason to go without it. You can find affordable health care according to your needs. Plus, depending on your circumstance, you may only have to pay a portion of your health care premium. If you qualify for publicly subsidized health insurance, you may not have to pay any premium at all for a basic health insurance package.
When you begin shopping for health insurance you just need to know three things:
You can acquire health insurance through your employer, the Affordable Care Act or through applying for a private basic plan yourself. You have more options available to you than you think. It all depends on your personal circumstances, your current employment status and how much you can afford to pay for a premium.
Availability of plans. There is usually a variety of health care coverage plans that you may qualify for depending on where you live. It always pays to do some extra research.
Deadlines, Qualifications, and Affordability. There are enrollment periods and deadlines to apply for health insurance. You must make sure that you qualify for the health insurance plan that you apply for.
Does Your Employer Offer Health Insurance Coverage?
Most people can get their health insurance coverage needs to be met through their employer. Is your employer signed up for group life insurance coverage? Group life insurance is extremely easy to qualify for since all you need to do qualify is to be employed by a business that offers it. It is also the most common form of group-based health insurance coverage that is offered. Group life insurance is a form of employer-contracted life insurance coverage designed to cover the employee workforce of a business, labor organization or union. The range of benefits that are offered through group-based health insurance varies depending on the employer.
The Various Group Health Insurance Benefits
Keep in mind that most group-based health insurance coverage packages offer very basic benefits. You will face a minimal salary deduction for such coverage, depending on the employer. However, the employer usually shoulders virtually all of the responsibility for premium payments. Find out if your employer offers any form of group-based health coverage and sign up for it if they do. Keep in mind that most group-based, employer-issued health insurance coverage plans are a form of basic term life insurance. All in all, about 41% of all Americans do not have any kind of life insurance coverage whatsoever. Employer issued health coverage can be your best option if you have no other personal coverage options available, or if your own personal coverage is lacking.
Publicly Subsidized Health Insurance
Not all employers provide group-based health insurance coverage. If your employer doesn’t provide health insurance, then you can look for help via publicly subsidized health care. Healthcare.gov is an online marketplace exchange, which can inform you of insurance-based services based on where you live. It is set up through the Affordable Care Act. This website is designed to be user-friendly, easy to access and navigate. There are prompts to help you search for coverage or to update a preexisting plan.
Searching For The Right Health Plan
You can peruse the online selection of topics that can answer your questions about enrollment, taxes, fees and saving money as you look at your health insurance options. Depending on your own circumstance, you may be able to obtain coverage through the online marketplace, based on your state of residence, or by enrolling in Medicaid or CHIP. At Healthcare.gov you can find local help, like insurance representatives, offices and clinics that can advise you on your healthcare needs. You can check out a list of insurance agents and brokers in your area and leave an email to have them contact you. Healthcare.gov also has online tools available to help you correctly report your income status when you enroll on an exchange. When you purchase through the exchange available in your state, you could be eligible for tax subsidies. Tax subsidies are available for a range of income levels. An individual can be eligible for tax subsidies while earning up to four times the federal poverty level.
Timing Is Critically Important
It’s important to remember that you can only enroll in a health plan on the marketplace during the Open Enrollment period, otherwise you may be faced with penalties for late enrollment or be forced to wait until the next open enrollment period. You can sign up to receive important email notifications and updates from Healthcare.gov. and marketplace exchanges. Over 9.2 million individuals selected a health coverage plan via the use of Healthcare.gov. in 2017. Also, keep in mind that Healthcare.gov maintains connections to over 90% of the insurance companies and agents who can offer advice or consultation, operating in the country. Remember that you are not alone if you are trying to secure a health coverage plan for yourself.
What About Private Insurance?
Almost 70% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 64 have some form of private health insurance coverage. If you do not qualify for publicly subsidized health insurance due to employment or income, then this is your next option. How much you will pay for a premium will vary from company to company.
There are a few ways that you can begin securing a private health insurance coverage plan:
You can contact an insurance company directly via a website or phone call.
Schedule a consultation visit with agent, broker or representative of an insurance company.
You could even get a recommendation from trusted family members and friends
Your best option may be to elicit the help and advice of an insurance agent or broker. An insurance agent is a representative who works for a particular company. An insurance broker promotes and sells coverages plans for multiple insurance companies. Whether you enlist the aid of an agent or broker, they can be a great resource to help you get private coverage. Also, you do not have to pay an agent or broker for their services, as they are either paid by the companies or work on commission.
What Makes Private Insurance Different
Private insurance companies sell insurance coverage plans based on actuaries or life statistics. These are statistics designed to calculate how long someone will live based on life longevity, diet lifestyle, tobacco use, exercise activity, health, and many other factors. This is why you may be asked if you smoke, how much you exercise, the status of your medical health or to take a medical physical when you apply for private health insurance. Part of the process for procuring private health insurance coverage includes:
Specifying who will be covered on your plan, like a spouse, children and so on
Determining what kind of coverage plan that and/or your family needs
Paying a higher premium usually corresponds to paying a lower co-pay and deductible and vice-versa
Filling out a lot of applications. Don’t be afraid to ask an insurance agent or broker about the paperwork process
Do not feel pressured to fill out paperwork you do not understand
Higher Premium For Private Insurance
Keep in mind that buying a private insurance plan involves paying a monthly premium based on your income, your overall health and lifestyle practices. The older that you are, the more you will pay for coverage. Older people are more likely to experience health-related problems than young people. Applying for health insurance via a private insurer will be as complicated as you make it out to be. A good insurance agent or broker will lay out what you need to know and do before you buy a coverage plan.
Picking Your Plan
Once you’ve decided where to buy your insurance, it’s time to pick your plan. Consider the kind of coverage the plan provides. Your plan may or may not include dental coverage. The co-pay may cost more or less. You may be able to add a spouse, children or family onto your coverage, or maybe not. The details of a coverage plan very differently from company to company. Consider your immediate, short-term and long-term health needs as you compare coverage plans.
Finding The Perfect Coverage May Be a Challenge
Review the list of in-network doctors. When you sign onto a coverage plan, you can only visit from a list of doctors and medical professionals who have made cooperative arrangements to work with one another. The insurance company has made price arrangements and pre-arranged contractual agreements with these in-network doctors. Visiting a doctor outside the network can cost a lot more than visiting one in the network. Operating under a coverage plan. You should not see it as limiting, but as a way to zero in on a specialist or medical professional who can meet your health care needs.
Prescription Drugs and Co-Payments
Prescription drugs are another key item to consider when you apply for a coverage plan. The insurance plan’s prescription drug plan will list the medications that it covers. Shop around and compare coverage plans to make sure that a prospective plan could cover the costs of any medication you may need. Some prescription medications can be very expensive without good drug coverage. Also be aware that you may be required to make co-payments on subscriptions, even if they are covered under a plan. How much you may have to pay for a co-pay varies from plan to plan.
Out-of-pocket costs include payments that are mandatory parts of a coverage plan. These include the premium, co-pay, and deductible. A premium is the amount of money that you pay monthly and/or annually to maintain health insurance coverage. A co-pay is the amount you pay out of pocket for a doctor’s visit or a prescription medication. A deductible is an amount you pay toward your care each year before insurance starts to pay.
Health Insurance Plan Types
Health insurance plans come in different levels like gold, silver, and bronze, for example. With gold-level plans, you pay a higher premium, but you usually have lower co-pays and deductibles. A plan like this is a good idea if you use a lot of medical care or you already have a preexisting condition that requires frequent doctor’s visits. Bronze plans have lower premiums, but usually higher deductibles. A plan like this is good for people who are generally healthy and only need health insurance for emergencies. As mentioned before, you may not find a plan that suits all of your needs. You just need to find a coverage plan to fulfill as many of your needs as possible.
What You Should Watch Out For
Health care coverage plans can vary greatly. You may have to pay a lot for out of pocket costs. Premium payments may be very high. All of your long-term and short-term medical needs may not be covered. When you select a plan, you need to consider your family’s needs carefully. Make a detailed list of contingencies you may need to consider when you apply for coverage.
Do you plan to travel abroad? If so, does your plan cover you if you get sick or injured abroad?
Do you plan to have a baby? If so, what kind of coverage is provided before and after the baby is born?
Do you believe that you will require a lot of emergency care due to a preexisting condition?
Do you skydive regularly? Are you into B.A.S.E. jumping? Are you a police officer? A stunt person? If you lead an active, adventurous or dangerous lifestyle, or are employed in law enforcement, be prepared to pay more for coverage.
Are you over the age of 65? The older that you are, the harder it will be for you to get affordable coverage.
Make sure that you discuss all of your coverage needs in detail with an insurance agent or broker. Don’t ever count out looking for affordable health care on the grounds that you may not be able to afford it. You can use online search engines and information navigators to get the information that you need. You can consult with the insurance company agents or brokers. You don’t have to worry about applying for affordable health care coverage on your own. You can obtain affordable health coverage. It just never pays to assume that you can’t. There are just too many options available for you not to get the kind of coverage that suits your needs as much as possible.
Created by health and insurance professionals, Gov Health Option provides a one-stop source for healthcare from insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, and options for children. Let Gov Health Option help you understand your health care options.