When you are considering a health insurance plan, prepare to be confused. While a good agent can help you make the best choice you can, there are unscrupulous agents whose sole purpose is to steal. I remember reading in the local paper about a woman who had been told “This is the best insurance on the market for you.” The thing is, she didn’t read the policy. It was a great insurance, but it was a maternity insurance, and she was 70 years old.
What should you look for in your search? Start with cost. Set a cost goal. But don’t be afraid to go higher. But if you have a tight budget, set an upper limit.
Look at the deductible. Pick the one that fits your budget best. Don’t feel pressured to go to the highest, or lowest.
What is handled? Look closely at lifetime benefits. As medical costs rise, it’s a lot easier to hit a million on lifetime benefits. How does it handle “pre-existing conditions”? If you’ve had cancer, you may find yourself in a major quandary if you have a relapse. What is the maximum benefit for such conditions, what is the deductible? If you’ve developed HIV, or AIDS, you can expect very high deductibles, high premiums, and/or very low benefits for such conditions.
What about extraordinary conditions? If you should suffer a hearing loss, what will they cover on the hearing aids or cochlear implants?
If you become pregnant, will it cover emergency care in case of a premature birth? Again, how much? Will the insurance cover insulin pumps, in-vitro fertilization, plastic surgery? You really need these answers to make a wise choice.
If you have questions, can you contact the company immediately? How fast is their service?
Check with friends and neighbors and ask what they have, how satisfied they are. Is their agent reachable?
Can you get a plan through your work? It’s certainly going to be easier on your wallet!
Finally, don’t hesitate to ask questions. If you can’t get a straight answer, go elsewhere. And have a lawyer on hand to check the fine print in the contract. It could save you a lot of grief.
So, to sum up: Check costs, check deductibles, check benefits. Understand how they define pre-existing conditions, and how they handle them. Determine if it’s a “Major Medical” or merely a “Fill the gap” policy. You really need to know before you can make a good decision. And don’t be afraid to consult with a lawyer about the contract. The grief you prevent may be worth the premium.