Finding affordable health insurance may seem impossible, but it is possible. Financial aid may be available through the Marketplace that could cover both your monthly premium and reduce deductible costs.
Affordable Health Plans Provide Essential Care: These health plans enable access to essential healthcare without breaking the bank, including preventive services and treatment for chronic or preexisting conditions. Short-term plans generally offer less comprehensive coverage.
1. Know Your Needs
Affordable health insurance is more than just financial convenience – it also protects you and your family against unexpected medical costs, while giving access to preventive care services. Finding an ideal policy that meets all your unique needs may prove tricky, so here are a few key things you should keep in mind as you shop around:
Consider your current medical needs. Think about what procedures and medications you use regularly as well as any expected health issues you anticipate in the near future. Understanding what healthcare needs you have now can help narrow down the available plans until one meets both your budget requirements and health concerns.
Decide which network type you prefer. Most large employers offer employees the choice between Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) and Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans, with HMOs having more restrictive networks that must be utilized, while PPOs tend to offer greater selection in doctors and hospitals.
As part of your health insurance planning, it’s also essential that you carefully consider which deductible is appropriate. A deductible is the out-of-pocket expense you must meet before coverage kicks in from your health insurer; while higher deductibles can lead to lower monthly premiums but could require thousands in out-of-pocket expenses before coverage kicks in.
Consider any existing medical conditions or lifestyle factors like pregnancy or child birth when selecting your insurance plan, and find one with comprehensive pediatric coverage if applicable.
Dependent upon your income, you may qualify for even cheaper health insurance through either the marketplace or Medicaid. Each year during open enrollment you have a period to select or renew a plan; sometimes this period can extend past its end in certain situations such as losing your job or moving states if that warrants changes outside open enrollment – for instance applying for COBRA could help continue coverage during this time.
2. Compare Plans
Utilizing the Compare Plans and Estimate Costs tool on the Health Insurance Marketplace Opens in new window is an easy way to see what plans are available and their associated costs, along with any financial assistance options you might qualify for. Simply enter your ZIP code, income level and household size information to begin this journey.
Out-of-pocket costs, like deductibles and copayments, have an outsized impact on total health care costs. When shopping around for plans, be mindful of this as deductibles and copayments could add thousands to the final total bill (you could choose one with lower monthly premiums but higher out-of-pocket expenses; such as $70 doctor visit copayment instead of $30 copays).
If you decide to switch plans with different out-of-pocket costs than your current plan, it is crucial that you examine past claims to gain an idea of your average health care costs over the years and this will allow you to determine if a change is suitable.
Consider also which doctors and clinics make up each plan’s network. Some plans (like HMOs ) only cover healthcare providers within their network and require referral from your primary care doctor in order to see specialists; other plans ( like PPOs ) offer greater flexibility with doctors outside their networks as well as offering lower rates than their HMO counterparts.
Check if the plans you are considering include providers you rely on – such as doctors and facilities – in their networks. If they don’t, consider switching to another plan with those doctors and facilities in its network.
As part of your health plan search process, it’s a good idea to see which plans offer any extras that might make them attractive to you. Today’s health plans may provide additional services like gym memberships, home delivery of healthy meals or travel assistance that could offset some costs of coverage that must be covered out-of-pocket.
3. Shop Around
If you don’t already have health coverage through an employer, professional, trade, or membership organizations offer group health plans at reduced costs that allow freelancers, small start-ups and others to band together to purchase group coverage at a lower cost. When looking at these associations’ health services discount plans – which often save on prescription costs but do not offer broad coverage.
Health insurance options that are offered on state or federal exchanges tend to be the cheapest. You can access them by visiting each insurer in your area’s website; pricing and types of coverage can differ significantly between plans so it is best to shop around before selecting one.
Health insurance plans may also be purchased outside the marketplace by going directly to insurers; however, doing so eliminates your chance to benefit from premium tax credits.
4. Get a Quote
Starting your health insurance search off right isn’t hard if you use health insurance quotes as your starting point. Compare benefits and costs across plans until you find one that suits you, including monthly premium, deductible, and out-of-pocket maximum costs. Simply enter your zip code and answer some simple questions about yourself or family needs to receive personalized plans with estimated rate estimates based on income/household size/need.
After reviewing plan benefits, it is also important to compare provider networks of health plans in order to see which medical establishments and physicians they cover. Each type of plan features its own network, consisting of healthcare providers who contract with insurers in exchange for discounted care rates for members; preferred provider organization (PPO) and exclusive provider organization (EPO) plans typically cover more healthcare establishments than HMO plans. When comparing health insurance quotes you should also pay attention whether an HMO requires referrals before seeing specialists; PPO and EPO plans do not typically require referrals while HMOs typically do require referrals while PPO and EPO plans do not.
Cost of health insurance varies widely depending on the level and age of coverage chosen; individuals aged 60+ often pay twice what 30-year-olds do for comparable levels of protection. If you qualify for Medicaid, however, you could potentially obtain affordable health coverage without monthly premiums at all!
As a small business owner, shopping for group health insurance for your employees through either the marketplace or an independent agent needn’t be difficult or time consuming. eHealth makes the process quick and straightforward with its expert advisors ready to help determine what coverage fits best with your budget and business model. Its free quote tool lets you explore eHealth’s extensive selection of health plans with their benefits and costs displayed clearly for easier comparison. Once you find a plan you like, eHealth will assist with the enrollment and renewal processes to make the enrollment and renewal processes hassle free.