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7 Key Tips for Comparing Health Insurance Plans

Alvin Nelson
May 26, 2021
Alvin Nelson

comparing health insurance plans

Having health insurance has been an important topic over the last few years. However, the CDC states there are 32.8 million people under the age of 65 that are uninsured.

Many claim that they can’t afford their premiums or they can’t find an affordable health insurance option with low deductibles.

While that may be the case, many shoppers likely don’t know how to properly compare health insurance plans. And picking the wrong plan is more expensive than you think.

Will you be shopping for a new health insurance policy at the end of the year? If you need health insurance information, here are 7 tips to compare plans.

1. Out-of-Pocket Costs

Until you reach your deductible (we will cover this more later), you’ll have to pay a certain amount for doctor visits and various services. 

The policy for health insurance may give you a breakdown of the different out-of-pocket costs before you even sign up for the plan. This may include your cost for a GP or even for the emergency room.

It’s worth looking at the breakdown of costs that both plans offer. Choose the insurance company that offers the lowest costs.

What if a health insurance plan doesn’t offer a breakdown of these costs? You can take a look at what they do and don’t cover. From here, search the average costs of these services. While it won’t be as accurate, this will still give you insight into what you might have to pay.

2. Coverage Limits

All health insurance policies have different coverage limits. This is important for many reasons. In the event that you suffer a catastrophic accident, you’ll know how much your insurance will cover.

Fortunately, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) prevented health insurance companies from limiting lifetime and yearly coverage expenses. This means that health insurance companies can’t set a dollar limit on how much they can spend.

However, there are plans that fall outside of the marketplace that may still have these restrictions. If you’re signing up for this type of health insurance, make sure you check the coverage limits and compare them to a marketplace plan.

3. Deductibles

When you meet your deductible, your health insurance provider will cover your medical costs that lie within your coverage. But what does this mean? A deductible is the amount of health care costs you pay before your insurance company starts to pay.

There are two different types of deductibles: low and high. Low deductible plans usually come with higher premiums (the amount you pay per month), but you reach your deductible quicker. High deductible plans have lower premiums, but it takes longer to reach your deductible.

Which option should you choose? It depends on your health and your preferences.

As a rule of thumb, if you have health conditions that require frequent treatments and doctor visits, you should choose a low deductible plan. But if you’re healthy and only go to the doctor for annual checkups, you can get away with a high deductible plan.

When comparing health insurance, it’s also worth comparing the deductible amount by the premium costs. If you can find a low deductible that also comes with a low premium, choose that health insurance.

4. Calculate Total Costs

As you can see, health insurance comes with more expenses than people think. That’s why it’s best to take the total costs of both health insurance plans and see which plan is truly cheaper.

These costs include more than the premiums — they include the copayments, deductibles, out-of-pocket costs, and coinsurance. You should also keep in mind that these costs vary by state and whether or not you get a subsidy.

Keep in mind, the best health insurance doesn’t exactly have the cheapest costs. This is especially important to consider if you have a health condition.

5. Doctors in Your Network

Not every doctor will accept your insurance. That’s why it’s best to search for the doctors that both insurance plans offer.

Some health insurance plans offer a search feature on their website where you can search for doctors in varying specialties. It’s not only worth it to search for doctors you want to visit but also to ensure that there are plenty of doctors in your area that accepts your insurance.

Unfortunately, many plans don’t let you search for doctors unless you’re a customer. That’s when it’s a good idea to call your doctor or others in your area to discover which insurance options they accept.

6. What the Insurance Actually Covers

The beginning of this article focused primarily on costs. While knowing you can afford the insurance is essential, it’s also a good idea to know what both plans actually cover.

Most plans will cover annual doctor appointments. But what about several appointments throughout the year? While most plans will cover hospital visits, it’s worth it to see if they cover urgent care visits. If you have to see a specialist, you’ll want to know if your insurance will cover those costs.

And don’t forget about prescriptions — you’ll want to know if the plan you’re choosing covers your prescriptions.

It’s also worth it to see if the plan covers other services such as x-rays, blood work, various medical procedures, and maternal services such as giving birth.

7. Check for Additional Services

Some health insurance companies also include additional services. These include drug rehabilitation, mental health, chiropractic care, hospice, home nursing care, and even alternative and/or experimental treatments.

Even if you don’t think you’ll need these services, they’re worth looking into. They serve as options in case you need additional care or want to try other forms of healthcare. These additional services may be the deciding factor in which insurance you choose.

Search for Health Insurance Plans Today

How do you find these health insurance plans? The best first place to start is with a search. We make it easy to find and compare plans in your state.

Don’t be left without health insurance. To find your next health insurance plan, all you need to get started is a zip code. You can get a quote today! We look forward to hearing from you.

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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.