Insurance shopping, Part I
by Mark Dunn, Ohio Insurance Options agent
Each of us has different health care needs and no one type of plan is right for everyone. Be honest with yourself when evaluating your health care needs. Remember that in the end, choosing the wrong plan can financially hurt you and your family. Purchasing and having health insurance is one of the most important financial decisions you will make.
In 2001, there were 1,458,000 personal bankruptcies, according to a study published by the journal Health Affairs. Of that number, half were caused by illness and medical bills.
Health Affairs reported that the study estimates medical bankruptcies affect nealry 2 million Americans each year -- including debtors and their dependents, counting about 700,000 children.
An interesting fact to note is that most of those bankrupted by illness did have health insurance. More than seventy-five percent said they were insured at the start of the bankrupting illness. Sadly, 38 percent had lost coverage, at least temporarily, by the time they filed for bankruptcy
Questions you need to ask yourself before you start your search for the best health care plan for you:
- How much money can I actually afford to spend on health insurance? The only good health insurance plan is the one that is in force when you need it.
- Do I want a plan with a high deductible and low premium? Things to consider: Am I the type of person who can save the money needed to pay the high deductible if I need to use the health coverage or am I broke before I get my next paycheck?
- If you are broke before the next pay check, you may want to consider a plan that provides an office co-pay and prescription drug card.
- If you are the type of person who can put money aside to pay the high deductible, then you may want to consider the high deductible plan.
- Do I want a PPO (preferred-provider organization) plan or an Indemnity (No Network - see any doctor) Plan? Having a PPO plan will cost you less if you stay in network. Several networks in Ohio have physician and hospital participation rates of over 90%. Always check to make sure your doctor is in the network of the company you are applying for health insurance with.
Once you answer these questions, you’re set to find an independent health insurance specialist who represents multiple companies. Look for a specialist who is very knowledgeable about the plans that are available in your state.
Please see Questions to Ask When Comparing Health Insurance Plans for more information on searching for plans.