If you find yourself looking for private health insurance, it may feel like you are learning a new language in relatively foreign territory. To navigate the ins and outs of private healthcare, consider the following points:
* High Premium Low Deductible *
In simple terms this means you pay more each month, but you don’t have to pay a whole lot if something bad happens. High Premium Low Deductible offers generally include a greater percentage of coverage for emergency room visits and hospital stays. They may also include a standard co-pay for doctor’s visits, a more affordable option than paying the full price of the visit. Since most independent health insurance policies include some type of deductible, be sure that your co-pay counts toward this deductible. This insures that anything you are spending lowers your cost down the road. This type of policy may sound good at first because you will be paying less at the doctor’s office, but be careful to take into consideration that you are spending more each month so that you can spend a little less if or when you need to visit your doctor. Is that really worth it? Or, could you go with a lower premium and a higher deductible and pay the full amount at the doctor’s office when or if the time comes? In theory, the money you save on your premium can go toward your doctor’s office bill.
* Low Premium High Deductible *
As I said before, the best benefit to this arrangement is that you get to keep more of your own money. If you are able to set aside the difference between some of the high premium offers that you are considering and the lower premium offers, the money for incidental doctor’s visits will be readily available to you. The downside to these plans is that they often include $3,000 to $5,000 deductibles that must be applied to major medical situations before the insurance covers additional expenses.
*Waiting periods and other fine print *
Independent health insurance plans often include a laundry list of waiting periods and exclusions, it is imperative that you take a very close look at this list before accepting a health care plan and before visiting your doctor when you are on a new plan. Many seemingly innocent conditions are not covered during a three-, or even six-month, waiting period from the start of your independent insurance coverage. Not reading the fine print could be the difference between an ear infection and a middle ear disorder and could cost you hundreds of dollars out-of-pocket.