Image source: CDC
No matter how controversial it may sound, health insurance is pivotal. As of 2021, over 300 million Americans have health insurance. This figure accounts for about 92% of the country’s population.
Unlike many other developed countries, the US health insurance system is a mix of both private and public providers, with private companies taking up more than half of the country’s insurance coverage. More than 50% of insured Americans get coverage through their employer, while about 39.5% rely on Medicare and Medicaid.
Getting insurance has health and financial benefits. Unfortunately, due to the lack of universal health insurance coverage in the US, about 31.1 million Americans are left uninsured every year. Some can’t afford high insurance premiums, while others just don’t see a need to get it.
“Why should I pay so much money on health insurance when I rarely fall sick?” On the surface, it seems like a good point. Only, in reality, nobody is immune to falling sick. And getting an insurance plan early enough can save you from gruesome medical expenses in the future.
As important as it is, picking health insurance can be a bit tricky and stressful, even when you get it through your employer. But worry no more: here are some important tips to help you choose the best health insurance coverage and save costs:
Know Your Options
In America, it’s hard to tell where to look for health insurance because unlimited options are staring at you in the face.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), individuals aged 65 or older qualify for the federally run insurance program, Medicare, where the government takes up the bulk of medical costs. This program is also open to individuals with certain disabilities.
Medicaid is another option funded by both the federal and state governments. This program is open to low-income individuals and run by each state government, meaning that eligibility differs for each state. Medicaid is said to cover one in four Americans (about 80 million people).
Most people below 65 years get coverage through their workplace. The percentage of premium costs paid by employers varies depending on working terms. It’s, therefore, necessary to check with the appropriate department to find out what insurance policies are available through your job.
Other options include shopping for insurance in the marketplaces created by the ACA via healthcare.gov, the federal government’s official health insurance website. It means you’ll have to choose among many options, which can be pretty dicey. But you can opt for services like the Assurance IQ health insurance to shop for the right insurance plan and compare different health insurance policies.
Familiarize Yourself With Insurance Terms
Looking to save on health insurance? You’ve got to understand basic insurance terms, like premium, copayment or coinsurance, deductible, out-of-pocket maximum, and cost-sharing.
Insurance companies use these words in their quotes: Premium is the amount you pay every month for your coverage, while deductibles refer to the amount of money you must spend on health services before your insurance kicks in. After you’ve paid your deductibles, there’s a percentage (coinsurance) or a flat fee (co-pay) you pay out-of-pocket each time you visit the doctor. The out-of-pocket maximum is the limit to which you can share costs; once you exceed this limit, your insurance will pay 100% of your medical expenses.
Many companies choose to manage their offerings by selling a basic plan with discounted premium. On the surface, the plan seems inexpensive, but in reality, you may end up paying more because more often than not, discounted premiums could mean high deductibles. If, for example, the company lists $100 as the monthly premium for a basic plan and $5,000 as deductibles, it means you have to pay $5,000 out of pocket before your insurance pays its share of the cost when you seek medical care.
If you picked a plan with a high deductible, your hope of spending less rests on you not having to use a lot of health care services. This way, you only have to worry about the affordable premiums and a few medical appointment expenses.
It’s advisable for people with chronic diseases to opt for plans with higher premiums, which can be quite expensive but much more predictable (low deductibles and coinsurances). With this, they can plan their monthly medical expenses and won’t have to worry about paying so much out-of-pocket.
Some Plans Are Too Good to be True. Avoid Them!
Insurance companies advertise their services on the internet or in print media. Their cheap offerings may appeal to you, but experts advise against opting for these services.
Some of these companies don’t offer basic coverage and are only profitable in the short term. Many others are scams. Be careful, and don’t fill in your personal information on just any insurance form you see online.
Seek Professional Help
If you find it difficult to choose a plan, you can seek free professional help by visiting healthcare.gov. You just have to put your zip code and look for a health insurance provider.