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Important Guidelines For Choosing Your Health Insurance Provider

Feb 11, 2008
Choosing a health insurance provider can be a daunting task. Although you know you will be happy you have coverage when you need it, insurance is one of those things we all would rather not have to think about.

It is important to choose carefully so that when the need for coverage does arise (and yes, it always does) you will be prepared. Here are some of the things to consider when deciding which provider and plan are right for you and your family.

Company Health Insurance

Your workplace may offer health insurance, and they will generally deal with one provider. This limits your options, but can save you money since these are group plans. This also simplifies the process of setting up your plan since configuration and management of your coverage can often be completed and/or assisted onsite at your workplace through your HR department.

But again, there are disadvantages of company health insurance. Although it does hold the benefit of saving you money, you might not get the kind of coverage that matches the medical situation of you and your family.

Even if you are self-employed there is a plan available to you, through the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE).

Individual and Group Health Insurance

Many people are disappointed when they discover that health insurance is either not offered by their employer or that the coverage offered is not well-suited to their individual needs. What people often fail to recognize is that it is possible to choose your own health insurance provider!

Most companies offer individual plans and group plans, and you need not go through your workplace to get coverage. Again, you may save monthly by going through your workplace's group plan, but is that worth it if the plan does not give you the coverage you really want or need?

Before or during open enrollment at work, do some research online and compare what is offered by plans that you can get on your own. You may be surprised that you can get affordable coverage that is more appropriate for your family's health circumstances.

What to Consider

When you consider a health insurance provider, consider some of the following questions. Make a list of the answers and compare, and then choose a provider whose answers are best for your particular priorities.

1. How much are monthly premiums? Are these fixed or fluctuating?
2. What is covered: office visits, medications, minor or major surgeries?
3. What types of coverage is offered in terms of medical, dental, and vision?
4. What kind of out-of-pocket deductibles and co-payments might apply?
5. Will you be able to choose your own doctor? If limited to a network, how big?
6. Is an HSA (health savings account) offered? What are the details, if so?
7. Will your children or spouse be covered?
8. Can you cover children without a parent being required in the plan?
9. Are short term plans available?
10. What time commitment are you locked into? When can you adjust your plan?
11. Does the provider offer online setup and management for coverage?

Putting It All Together

If you notice any other benefits offered by some companies which are not on this list, start asking the competition if they offer those benefits as well. Get organized, do some basic research, go online, make calls, and take good notes.

Finally, review your notes and compare. Follow this process and you will be sure to find affordable and comprehensive coverage to perfectly match the insurance needs of you and your family.
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