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How to Compare Health Insurance Rates from Different Carriers

Alvin Nelson
February 18, 2021
Alvin Nelson

Compare Health Insurance Rates from Different Carriers

Comparing health insurance rates from different carriers is usually a time-consuming process. The number of insurers to choose from is staggering, particularly for those who have never shopped around for better rates.

Most healthy people never think about planning for their future and hastily choose bargain plans with few benefits and high deductibles.

As time passes, these people learn the hard way that it's best to find an optimal health plan as soon as possible before affordability becomes an issue.

At the end of the day, the process of shopping for health insurance isn't challenging, but there are a few aspects to know before starting.

Here's how to compare and contrast health plans to find the best rates.

Choose a Health Insurance Marketplace

The majority of workers in the U.S. get health insurance through their employers, but there are options for those workers that don't have employer-sponsored insurance.

One option is to contact insurers directly and get coverage through private exchanges. The downside is that these types of health insurance typically aren't eligible for tax breaks.

Another way to go is by shopping the federal marketplace on HealthCare.gov – otherwise known as Obamacare.

The caveat of an Obamacare plan is that patients have to enroll during specific periods.

An important reminder: New patients must enroll between November 1, 2020, and December 15, 2020, to receive health insurance from the federal marketplace in 2021.

Since Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, 15 states have developed marketplaces to make it easier for their citizens to find affordable coverage. These states include:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia
  • Idaho
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Rhode Island
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Washington

The next step is comparing the different types of health plans on each exchange. They may look the same, but critical differences can profoundly impact the plan's price.

Choose a Type of Plan

It's important to understand what insurance companies mean by "network." Essentially, healthcare services providers, including doctors and hospitals, work with insurance carriers to coordinate and bill services.

A rule of thumb: Usually, health services within a network are less expensive than out-of-network services but always, so be careful.

There are several basic plans to know before shopping around, such as:

  • HMO
  • PPO
  • EPO
  • POS
  • HDHP

Here's a short breakdown of what each type means.

HMO – Health Maintenance Organization

An HMO is a standard type of plan that provides most services in-network. Also, these plans require referrals to see specialists. HMOs tend to cost less, but patients have little freedom to choose out-of-network health providers.

PPO – Preferred Provider Organization

A PPO takes a different approach. Network care costs far less, but patients have the option to seek care off-network, incurring the additional cost themselves. Out-of-pocket expenses are usually higher with PPOs than HMOs, but patients have more provider options.

EPO – Exclusive Provider Organization

An EPO takes the best of both PPOs and HMOs and combines them. With EPO health coverage, patients still have to stay in-network unless it's an emergency, but no referrals are needed to see specialists, unlike HMOs. Also, there will be fewer providers overall.

POS – Point of Service Plan

Similar to a PPO, POS health plans don't force patients to seek care in-network; they can receive services out-of-network, but it'll cost more. The most significant benefit of a POS plan is that patients have many more options for health providers. The drawback is that, like an HMO, a doctor will coordinate specialists and referrals on your behalf.

HDHP – High Deductible Health Plan

The last type of health plan is the most expensive when it comes to out-of-pocket costs. HDHPs are reasonably straightforward. The monthly premiums are the lowest, but deductibles and co-pays are higher than other types of plans.

What About Medicare and Medicaid?

If none of the private health plans will suffice, people can also apply to Medicare and Medicaid when it's time to apply for open enrollment 2020.

Medicare's open enrollment 2020 starts October 15 and runs through December 7 for those joining the program for the first time.

For millions of senior citizens, Medicare and Medicaid are critical lifelines of affordable health coverage and prescription drugs.

How To Compare Rates Without Adding Confusion

Thankfully, there are ways to streamline the search using the HealthPlans.com platform to collect quotes and compare rates, benefits, and costs.

A quality health insurance plan that suits the patient's needs boils down to out-of-pocket costs.

With a platform like HealthPlans.com, patients benefit from using one tool to compare all types of health plans.

Starting the process is easy on HealthPlans.com after patients select their zip code and then complete a short personal interview.

Overall, selecting health insurance doesn't have to be stressful or confusing if patients have a way to sort through options quickly like us here at HealthPlans.com.

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This website may not display all data on Qualified Health Plans being offered in your state through the Marketplace website or the federal Medicare program. This is not a complete listing of plans available in your service area. To see all available data on Qualified Health Plan options in your state, visit your state Marketplace website, go to the Health Insurance Marketplace website at https://www.healthcare.gov or consult https://www.medicare.gov.

Submitting this form does NOT affect your current enrollment, nor will it enroll you in a Medicare Advantage plan, Medicare Prescription Drug plan, Medicare Supplement Plan, or any other Medicare plan. QuoteLab, LLC is independent of the Medicare program and is neither associated with nor endorsed by The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) or any other governmental agency.

The plans represented on HealthPlans.com are Medicare Advantage HMO, PPO and PFFS organizations and stand-alone prescription drug plans with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in any plan depends on contract renewal. If you are paying Medicare Part B premium, you must continue to pay it to maintain coverage.

Advertised Pricing:

There are several factors that impact your monthly premium; including your age, geographical location, annual income, dependents, and the type of plan you choose. Monthly premiums do not include out-of-pocket costs.

The advertised price may not be typical. It was generated using the Kaiser Family Foundation's subsidy calculator that was accessed on September 16, 2020. The following parameters were used: 21 year old adult, non-tobacco user, annual income of $24,700 in 2020, no children, and no available coverage through a spouse's employer. The resulting monthly premium was $30 per month (or $360 per year after $2,751 in subsidies) for a Bronze Plan. Even when using the same parameters, the resulting premium and subsidy calculations may be subject to change.