Determine your insurance needs
Hopefully, you now realize the importance of having the right type and amount of insurance coverage. The next step is to correctly determine your specific insurance needs. Once again, the first step is to get educated. This will help you immensely in understanding the various types of coverage, and in identifying your general needs, or at least what aspects of coverage you don't need. Then you will be prepared to determine your actual insurance needs.
If you are covered through your employer, you may not have much choice regarding your health plan. If it addresses your primary needs, and is affordable, then be glad that you have a decent health plan. Unless you have special needs, like a prescription drug plan, that are not offered through your current plan, you can make the best of your coverage. If your employer's group plan has options, then you want to consider the differences carefully, and your decision should be based first on what types of protection you need, and secondly on cost.
What should every plan cover?
Your health insurance policy should contain at least the following types of coverage:
- Major medical protection for catastrophic illness or injury.
- Hospitalization coverage that pays your room, board, and incidental services if you're hospitalized.
- Surgical protection to cover fees and related costs associated with surgery.
- Doctor's office visits.
What options should I consider?
When comparing health plans, check to see if they provide additional benefits that you may need, including:
- Prescription drugs
- Preventive care (e.g., physicals, examinations)
- Mental health benefits
- Substance abuse treatment
- Maternity care
How do I decide which plan is best?
The best health insurance plan for you is the one that gives you the greatest flexibility and the most benefits for the lowest cost. Unfortunately, there's no such thing as a standard health insurance plan. As you would when making any major purchase, you'll need to consider all the aspects, including cost, before choosing a plan. Here are a few points to consider:
- What co-pays, deductibles, and coinsurance requirements apply?
- How much freedom do you have to choose your own health-care providers?
- Does the plan cover the health services that you need?
- Does the plan cover the health-care providers you're currently using?
- Does the plan offer family, as well as individual, coverage?
- Does the plan cover pre-existing conditions? If so, is there a waiting period? (The average waiting period is three months to one year.)
- Does the insurer have a good reputation in the industry and a positive rating from a major ratings organization? (Contact your state's department of insurance for more information.)
If you still have questions, consider getting professional help. Once you have determined your specific needs, then it is time to begin evaluating your current coverage so that you can identify and make the necessary changes.
Step 4 - Evaluate Your Insurance Policies