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Don't Purchase Health Insurance Unless You Understand These 5 Things

You should be sure that your medical insurance company is in point of fact a healthcare insurance company and meets the minimum  standards for your state.

Does the health-care insurance plan meet the minimum  standards?

Do you know what isn't covered?

How good is their network of doctors and hospitals?

How well is it priced?

Are you getting the best deductible?

You should be sure that your medical insurance company is in point of fact a healthcare insurance company and meets the minimum  standards for your state. 

Some companies selling what appears to be  medical care insurance are selling discount plans.  These plans can lower your cost for health care in some scenarios, but do not provide substantial coverage.  They will often use carrier names that are sound very similar to the names of well known health-care insurance carriers.

The best way to make sure that you are dealing with an actual health insurance carrier is to check with your state's department of insurance.  They will have a list of approved health care insurance carriers.

You should know what a given healthcare insurance carrier covers and does not cover. 

You should read the outline of coverage or brochure for any health insurance plan you are considering.  There will be a section that mentions the "exclusions and limitations."  Read this section carefully.  Most of the items in this section will be the same from policy to policy.  However, this won't be one hundred percent correct.  Make sure that you are comfortable with the things the plan doesn't cover.

You should understand how good their network is near your home. 

Is your doctor in the carrier's network?  If not, are there other providers in the network who are a short drive from home?  Is your local hospital in their network?  Will you be able to get emergency coverage when you are on vacation in another state?

If you are a snow bird, it is important to know if you can get your non-emergency care in taken care of in the area near both residences.  Most contracts will cover emergency care well whether or not you use network providers.  However, many will not cover routine care well if at all if the services are performed outside of the network.

You should know if a contract is well priced.  Make sure that it is competitively priced when compared to other similar plans from other health insurance carriers.  You may be surprised to know how much of a price variance there is between similar plans.

You should know if a plan is priced well when the deductible and other cost shares are concerned.

This involves doing a little arithmetic.  When comparing two similar medical insurance contracts with different deductibles, be sure to annualize the deductible and the premiums when judging plans.  Often when we do this we are able to pick out bargains.  Although it is true that when you pay more for a plan you can expect to have a lower deductible and vice versa, you may find that the price drops faster than the deductible rises. 

Look at your net expenses in different scenarios.  This will help you determine whether a carrier is charging too much for a low deductible policy.  Calculate your total costs for your health care expenses when you include not just your annualized premium and your annualized deductible and other cost shares.  You will probably find that a medium or even a high deductible plan will be your best option.

The more knowledge you have, the better choices you will make regarding your medical insurance plan.  Knowing if a plan meets your state's minimum  standards, knowing the limitations of the planFeature Articles, making sure that the network is adequate and being able to evaluate prices and deductibles are all important when it comes to finding the best health-care insurance contract for your family.

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Alston Balkcom is a veteran insurance agent. You can find on his site.

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