How to Compare Health Insurance

With the numerous options for health insurance, the need to be able to compare policies side by side is significant. Factors like premium costs, physician networks, out-of-pocket maximums and services covered are just a few of the things to consider when choosing a health insurance policy. Use the following tips to learn how to compare health insurance policies.

1. Analyze the types of insurance to determine what will work best for you and your family.

  • Traditional health insurance does not require specialist referral, does not limit your choice of physician, utilizes deductibles and co-payments, and requires filing of claims.
  • A Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) requires you to see your primary care physician, usually has low deductibles and co-payments, and files most paperwork and claims for you.
  • A Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) typically offers more flexibility than an HMO by not requiring you to see your primary care physician, but does charge more for seeing a doctor not in the organization.
  • A Point of Service plan (POS) is much like the PPO, but may not cover as many services.




2. Compare premium costs. This is a significant comparison to consider if you are trying to fit your insurance costs into a budget. Insurance premiums are usually paid monthly. Premiums are dependent on services provided and deductibles. If you have a lower premium cost, you will probably be receiving coverage for fewer services and have a higher deductible to meet. Your co-payments may be higher, as well. But, if you are trying to fit a budget, this is definitely a category to consider carefully.



3. Examine deductible amounts. A deductible is the amount you must pay out before your insurance policy will start paying for services. If you don’t foresee that you or your family will have many health concerns over the next year, a high deductible won’t hurt your family budget. However, if you anticipate an upcoming surgery or other health-related issues, a lower deductible may save you money in the long term.




4. Analyze the services covered. Some policies don’t provide coverage for mental health services or physical or occupational therapy. If services such as these are a concern to you, look for a policy that provides for them. If you are only looking for general health care coverage, the list of services you require may be less.



5. Calculate the cost of co-payments. If you and your family go to the doctor several times per year, a higher co-payment will cost you more during the course of your policy’s term. If you only go to the physician once a year for a check-up, a higher co-payment amount won’t be as significant of a concern for you.




6. Preview the physicians included in the network, if this applies to the policies you’re considering. Some people have a desire to continue seeking treatment from a long-time family doctor or prefer to visit a particular medical facility. If you wish to see specific doctors, make sure that your physicians are included in the network of approved providers.




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