With the price of health care, insurance is a necessity. The cost of medical care is rising rapidly and few people are able to afford this luxury without insurance.
Types of Health Insurance Coverage:
Two common categories of health plans are indemnity plans and managed care plans such as health maintenance organizations (HMO's) and preferred provider organizations (PPO's) and point of service (POS) plans.
An indemnity plan offers the option of choosing your own doctors. They pay for your medical expenses, in full, in part, or up to a specified amount per day for a certain number of days.
Managed care plan provide broader coverage, but involve an arrangement between the insurer and a selected network of health-care providers. An HMO will require that a primary care physician coordinate all of your care, referring you to other specialists within their network, when necessary.
Whichever type of plan you choose to buy depends on your individual health care needs and your budget.
What costs are covered?
Health insurance plans vary, so you will want to ask questions and discuss your health care needs with your insurance agent. When comparing insurance plans, be sure to find out if they provide additional benefits that you may need, including prescription drugs, preventative care, mental health, maternity care and vision to name a few.
In addition to the monthly premiums, you may have other associated costs like co-payments, coinsurance and deductibles. A co-payment is the amount you pay each time you visit the doctor or have a prescription filled. This is generally an amount much smaller than what it would be without insurance coverage. The deductible is the amount you pay toward your medical expenses during a one-year time before the insurance company picks up any costs. Coinsurance is the percentage of your medical costs that you pay after you have paid any deductibles.
Obtaining Health Insurance:
Some employers offer a group plan or you may belong to another affiliation such as a school or club. When these options are not available, you must purchase private health care. You can talk to your insurance agent about customizing an individual plan that meets your needs and fits your budget.
You want to look for a plan that offers the flexibility and benefits you need at the lowest cost. Like any major purchase, it is a good idea to shop around and get several quotes. Here are some questions you will want to ask:
- What are the cost of co-pays, deductibles and coinsurance?
- Does the plan offer the freedom to choose your own doctor?
- Does the plan cover the medical and health services you need?
- Is the insurance accepted by your current health care provider?
- Is family coverage available?
- Will the policy cover pre-existing conditions?
- Is there a waiting period? How long is the waiting period?
- Is it a requirement to have a complete physical first?
- If you're a smoker, will this have an effect the cost of premiums?
Also check with your state's department of insurance for information about the reputation of the insurance company. Regardless of which company or plan you choose, it's no good if your insurance provider is constantly refusing claims.
Cutting the cost of medical bills is a sure way to cut the cost of insurance. A healthy lifestyle is obviously the most effective way of cutting down on medical expenses. Take advantage of programs that offer free or reduced health screenings. Exercise regularly, eat right, have regular check-ups and avoid bad habits like excessive drinking and smoking.
If you take prescription drugs regularly, see if a three-month supply will save you money. Check online resources for ordering prescriptions through the mail instead of going to the pharmacy. Request a generic equivalence of your prescription when possible. Some pharmacists provide generic drugs automatically unless you or your doctor specifies different.
Carefully read your medical statements to be sure you are only paying for the services received. This is important even if your insurance covers the cost. You can help keep your premiums down by making sure your insurance company is not billed for a procedure you did not receive. Call your medical provider if you have any questions about your statement. If you don't get satisfactory answers, have your insurance company review your claim.
Married couples can save by being on the same plan rather than maintaining separate insurance. Most plans allow you to add your spouse within 30 days of getting married. Some will make you wait until the annual open enrollment period to make this change.
Keep track of your medical expenses; many of them are tax deductible if you itemize. Allowable medical expenses include doctor bills, eye care, prescriptions, lab fees, dental costs, hearing aids and other medical supplies.
If your insurance plan is limited or you don't have insurance, check with your medical provider, local clinics and hospitals to see about free health screenings such as cholesterol tests, eye exams, mammograms and cholesterol testing. Many of these are only offered once a year but it can't hurt to ask.
Some insurance companies cover preventative care such as annual check ups to help you stay healthy, therefore, requiring less in expensive procedures and treatments. Ask if they provide for discounts on vitamins or health club memberships. It also doesn't hurt to negotiate with doctors on their fees, especially if you have no insurance. Many doctors offer a courtesy adjustment to people who do not have insurance.
Insurance can be very expensive; so can medical care. Shop around, ask questions and live a healthy lifestyle to prevent health problems and save money on medical costs. Even if you have the best health coverage available, it's a good idea to stay healthy and avoid medical procedures that can be just as miserable physically as they are financially.
This article was written by Ted Lewicki, a Farmers Insurance Agent who represents several insurance companies. Ted has been in the insurance business for nearly 50 years; he has been a member of the Better Business Bureau with no reported complaints. He is always available when his customers have questions or concerns or they need to review their insurance coverage. http://www.a-oneinsurance.com/ services Oakland County, Michigan with many clients in Waterford, Pontiac, Rochester, Auburn Hills, West Bloomfield, Keego Harbor, Milford, White Lake, Walled Lake, Wixom and neighboring cities and communities.
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