It’s no secret that health insurance is expensive. Not only is it costly, but it’s complicated and confusing. It’s understandable to be frustrated about how to choose the best coverage and what to look for. While shopping for health insurance will probably never be enjoyable, there are tips for making it less painful.
This guide will share the best secrets for shopping for health insurance without breaking the bank. Health insurance shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg, but that’s still what many Americans end up paying each year. Don’t end up paying more than you need to by listening to these secrets:
1. Don’t Wait Too Long
The most important part of shopping for health insurance is to look at timing. As weird as it sounds, there is a best time to shop for health insurance. When is that time? The best 3-month period is known as “Open Enrollment” and it usually runs between November and January.
If you want your health insurance to kick in right on January 1st, you need to buy your insurance during this window. Instead of starting your search late, begin looking into the right coverage before Open Enrollment ends so you’re not scrambling to find the right plan at the last minute. If you skip health insurance, you might end up paying the individual mandate penalty on your taxes which can be a hefty fine.
Depending on your situation, you might be eligible for a special enrollment period. This means you don’t have to worry about Open Enrollment deadlines. If there’s a change in your life that requires new health insurance, you qualify for Special Enrollment. These life changes include things like having a baby or losing your job. Either way, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Never wait to buy coverage if you can during the Open Enrollment period.
2. Don’t Rule Out High Premiums
A lot of plans might scare you away because they have high premiums; but this shouldn’t be your deciding factor when you’re comparing insurance plans. Instead, look at all the costs together. That means reviewing the average cost for monthly premiums, copays, deductibles, and out-of-pocket maximums.
Choosing a plan with a higher premium might mean lower out-of-pocket costs or even a larger network of doctors to choose from. Depending on3. your healthcare needs, this can be a more affordable situation. Generally, a higher premium plan that leads to lower costs for healthcare visits is ideal for someone who knows they’ll need to visit a doctor or specialist frequently.
3. Drug Coverage
Sometimes the most expensive part of healthcare coverage is your medications. If you know you’ll need a certain prescription medication, it’s worth checking the cost before you commit to a plan. Some plans will have lower out-of-pocket expenses for your chosen medication which might make it worth it. Always check for plan limitations on drug coverage, for instance, a limited amount you can be prescribed every month.
4. Explore Your Options
If you need healthcare assistance, enrolling in the Health Insurance Marketplace is a great way to find affordable coverage. However, sometimes your income is too high to qualify for a subsidy or benefits package. In this case, you can sometimes find more affordable policies outside of the state or federal marketplace.
Insurance companies can sell plans both on the Marketplace and off the Marketplace. These come with different costs and varied premiums. It’s always best to compare your options to find a plan that works for your needs.
5. Additional Coverage
Sometimes you don’t get the amount of coverage you need from one plan alone. One of the most common examples of this for most healthcare consumers is dental or vision plans. These are plans that can be purchased secondary, and they are separate from your medical coverage. This is ideal if your employer doesn’t offer a comprehensive dental or vision plan, or if you and your family expect to need additional coverage.
If you’re a Medicare recipient over the age of 65, you have even more options for finding the right coverage under a Medicare Part C plan. With Medicare Part C, you can receive Medicare benefits while staying on a private health plan. This means more benefits and customized coverage. Learn more about how to consolidate your coverage with a Medicare Part C plan.
Finding the right coverage can feel exhausting. Not only is insurance confusing, but it involves a lot of complicated costs — so take the time to learn the basics of health insurance to prepare yourself to secure the best plan for you and your family. Doing so will help you to commit to an insurance plan that truly works for you.
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