Health Insurance Options

It is difficult for many Americans to decide on the right health insurance plan. That is because there are many complex and confusing components to health coverage. 

Residents shopping for health insurance must consider things like premiums, co-pays, co-insurance and out-of-pocket costs.

The costs of each plan is dependent on which category residents purchase. Different categories cover a different amount of medical costs. Different categories do not determine the quality of services but rather the out-of-pocket costs that members are expected to pay.

There are several types of health insurance options. Each type allows members access to different doctors and services within the network. Some plans allow members to visit out-of-network doctors at higher prices while others only permit members to see in-network physicians.

Understanding the differences between networks, categories and plans can help residents better understand other terms related to health care.

Finding Cheap Insurance

Finding affordable health insurance can be difficult especially for larger households. Moreover, some components of a health plan may be inexpensive while others will be. For instance, members who pay a small monthly premium will likely have a high deductible and lack emergency coverage.

As a result, these members will be required to pay out-of-pocket from certain services until they reach their deductible amount. Residents who experience a medical emergency in the beginning of the year will likely have to pay a large portion of their hospital bills as they have not reached their deductible.

Thus, while a plan with low premiums may seem inexpensive in the short-term, it may become expensive later on.

Low-cost health insurance can be obtained by residents who qualify for a cost sharing reduction or premium tax credit. Cost sharing reductions allow members to obtain a lower deductible and pay less out-of-pocket. On the other hand, an advanced premium tax credit helps members afford their premiums. 

These options are available to residents who purchase private health insurance, meaning that their plan was not offered to them by their employer. In addition, residents who receive Veterans benefits, are shareholders of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) or are members of a federally-recognized tribe may be able to obtain additional discounts on their health insurance. Medicaid is another government assistance program that can provide low-cost insurance coverage. 

Quotes from Health Insurance Companies

When shopping for health insurance, it is a good idea to obtain quotes from different companies. Residents can usually obtain a free quote from legitimate companies.  In order to get a quote, prospective members simply need to contact the health insurance companies that they wish to receive a quote from.

This can be accomplished online after completing a short questionnaire, through the mail or by phone. After submitting an inquiry residents will be in touch with an agent or representative.

Applicants will be asked to supply identification and contact information in addition to the amount of family members in their household. Residents can receive a more exact estimate by providing more information.

Choosing a Health Coverage Plan

Health insurance becomes more expensive as children get older. In fact, there is a large increase in health insurance premiums at 21 years of age. Still, premiums often continue to increase and adults at 50 years of age endure some of the highest premium costs.

Thus, families should learn about the complexities of different plans and figure out how well they suit the family’s needs. Some things to consider when assessing different plans include:

  • Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO)—coverage of physicians who with HMO contracts.
  • Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO)—coverage that allows members to pay less for in-network doctors.
  • Exclusive Provider Organizations (EPO)—coverage of in-network which only covers doctors in the network.

Individual health insurance plans typically cost less than family plans. However, residents obtaining healthcare for themselves will still need to learn about the different components and plan types in order to make the right decision. 

Short-Term Plans

Short-term health insurance plans provide coverage for residents in transitional periods. This type of insurance typically only provides coverage for one year or less. It is most appropriate to purchase when residents are dismissed from a job and no longer receive coverage under their employer or are easing into Medicare and do not want to have a gap in their insurance.

Additionally, residents who turned 2 years of age and can no longer stay on their family’s insurance should also consider short-term health care coverage. A short-term health insurance plan can also be beneficial for residents who missed the open enrollment period in the healthcare marketplace.

Long-term Plans

Long-term healthcare plans are available for residents for longer than one year. It is designed to provide cover the costs of aid in the case that a member becomes disabled or develops a condition that prevents them from taking care of themselves.

It is difficult for many Americans to afford because of high premiums. However, there are advantages to purchasing this type of insurance especially if it purchased ahead of time. Conversely, residents with low assets are not advised to purchase this type of insurance as it may not be a beneficial financial decision.

Supplemental Health Coverage

Supplemental health coverage provides additional options for services that are not covered by basic insurance plans. Essential coverage includes services like annual check-ups, preventative care and prenatal care.

However, there are many other procedures that some residents need that are not covered by their company. These services include dental and eye care. Purchasing supplemental insurance can help decrease costs associated with those services. The following are the most common options for supplemental coverage:

  • Vision insurance
  • Critical illness insurance
  • Accidental health insurance
  • Travel insurance
  • Long-term insurance
  • Adult dental insurance
  • Short-term insurance
  • Accidental death or dismemberment
  • Hospital indemnity

Obtaining supplemental health insurance is not the right option for everyone. Residents should only purchase additional coverage if they frequently need certain services. For instance, members who obtain frequent eye exams or need corrective lenses should consider vision insurance.

On the other hand, residents who do need vision correction may find that paying out-of-pocket for once eye exam per year may be more cost effective.