It seems like affordable health insurance is increasingly hard to come by these days. More confusion is added as a result of sweeping healthcare changes being instituted by Congress as well.
As average consumers, it leaves us looking like deer in headlights when it comes to making a decision to purchase this much needed form of insurance.
Even company sponsored health insurance plan costs seem to be rising exponentially every year, which is leading many of us to consider the private healthcare market for affordable health insurance coverage.
Of course, this can be a daunting task, as we are all too familiar with stories of individuals obtaining inadequate health insurance when attempting to save a few bucks.
The good news is, just like any other insurance product, there are a few basic steps you can take to make sure you are not left with the short end of the stick.
Rest assured, there are many health insurance coverage options and price points in the open market.
So you should be able to find the health insurance coverage you need at the price you want if you are willing to do some research and educate yourself. Let’s look at the process of doing so in a few simple steps.
Step One: Understand the Basics of Health Insurance
Health insurance coverage acts more like property and casualty (home & auto) insurance than life insurance.
With health insurance, you can expect one-year policy terms and varying premiums each time you decide to renew your coverage, versus life insurance policies that will probably have fixed premiums for extended periods of time (term life insurance) and may be active for many years (if not your entire life, see whole life insurance).
You can expect your health insurance premiums to gradually increase as you get older. This is partially due to rising costs of healthcare in general, along with the fact that, shocker-alert, our health gradually declines as we age.
Step Two: Evaluate Your Health Insurance Coverage Needs
Like many other forms of insurance; this step in the process is more a personal choice than a standardized set of guidelines. You must decide on your comfort level when it comes to obtaining affordable health insurance coverage.
You can go bare bones (which will clearly be the most affordable/risky) or all the way up to purchasing coverage for almost any potential health hazard for the human race…and just about anywhere in between.
This decision may depend on your current overall health and age. If you are young and in good general health, you may not need to purchase “the works,” where as if you are a little older and your health is declining, you may want to seek more comprehensive coverage.
Clearly the more health insurance coverage you opt for, the less affordable the plan will be.
Tip: Always try to factor in family health history when evaluating your potential health insurance coverage needs.
Let’s face it; your “comfort level” is not the only motivating factor when it comes to making this important decision.
You are going to have to consider your personal budget when evaluating your health insurance coverage “wants” versus coverage “needs.” Make sure to expect to pay staggering premiums in the event you decide you want to be covered for “everything.”
This is the step where you decide how much you want to self-insure. Self insurance is also referred to as a deductible. The higher the dollar amount you are willing to pay for on your own for minor costs, the lower you can expect your overall premium to be (just like property insurance for your car or home).
As a rule of thumb, the higher the deductible, the more “affordable” your health insurance becomes. But that also comes with increased risk of higher out-of-pocket expenses.
And if you’re a hypochondriac that must visit the doctor for every bump, bruise, cough, or scratch, you’ll probably want to opt for a higher level of coverage, and vice versa.
Step Three: Obtain Health Insurance Quotes and Make A Purchase
Once you have determined what type of health insurance coverage you want, or more importantly, fits your budget, you should obtain health insurance quotes online. This is the best way to get quotes from several companies from the comfort of your own home.
You may also choose to work with a local health insurance broker to obtain premium quotes if you are more comfortable speaking with a person who can guide you through the process.
But it’s recommended that you obtain online health insurance quotes prior to visiting a broker, as this will ensure you are not going to get railroaded with high cost health insurance.
Whether you decide to purchase your health insurance online or via a broker, you can generally count on your potential insurer requiring a health examination.
Of course, this is done to make sure you are charged the appropriate premium for your current health status. Individuals with poorer overall health can expect to pay more than those who are in good overall physical and mental health.
Let’s Review the Best Way to Get Affordable Health Insurance:
1. Educate yourself. The more you know, the more you save.
2. Don’t go for “the works.” More than you “need” will likely cost more than you can afford.
3. Shop ‘til you drop. The more health insurance quotes you get online and the more agents you speak to, the more you will learn and save.
4. Re-evaluate your health insurance needs/costs every year. Just like other types of insurance, companies may change their premiums every year…and they’re never looking to make less money.
Read more: Top health insurance companies.