Smart Ideas: Options Revisited

Comparing Health Insurance Quotes and Plans

One of the smartest- if not the smartest- things you can do before purchasing a health insurance plan, is to request different quotes from different companies and make comparisons. But first, you need to understand the usually confusing insurance-speak about networks, copays, deductibles and the others.

So just what exactly should you consider as you compare health insurance quotes?

Know what’s important to you.

First off, make a list of the things that are important for you to have in a health plan. If you would like to continue the relationship you have with your current doctor, ask which insurance plans he or she intends to participate in during the forthcoming plan year. The networks are quickly getting smaller; what they were a couple of years ago may not be what they are now. As you compare health insurance quotes, remember to take this into account.

Look beyond the premium.

Yes, a low premium does get rather tempting, but you should know that a low-premium plan may have a high deductible, possibly making you shoulder a big part of your own medical bills year to year. You must meet the deductible first before coverage for various types of services can begin. Clearly, this is among the biggest reasons you need to compare health insurance quotes before deciding on a particular plan.

Review all potential out-of-pocket costs.

Though several types of preventive care must now be fully covered at zero cost to you, under health reform, you may have to pay copayments and coinsurance, as well as a deductible for other services.

Get to know your doctors and hospitals.

Begin with the independent and non-profit organization known as The Joint Commission (formerly The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations), which is behind the accreditation and certification of many hospitals and health care programs today. Their website will let you determine whether a hospital or medical practice has been awarded the Joint Commission Gold Seal of Approval. At the end of the day, you want a health plan with a highly reputable hospital near you, all other things being equal.

Consider your prescription drugs.

The National Committee for Quality Assurance is another nonprofit organization that reviews medical practices.
When ranking health insurance plans at the state level, Consumer Reports’ website uses the committee’s data on customer satisfaction, preventive services and treatment as basis. When you compare health insurance quotes, be sure to check if your prescription drugs are covered by the plan.

Shop around!

Though it may seem easy to simply renew any plan you presently have, you need to review any other, possibly newer options available to you, whether through your employer or privately. Be sure to look at the entire picture and not just the price tag. It may take a little more time, but yes, it is a must to compare health insurance quotes before deciding which plan to buy.