Health insurance is a struggle for many reasons. Some people don’t have the kind of employment that provides coverage, which means they’re stuck trying to find the right coverage on their own. Others have employers who provide coverage, but figuring out what coverage to choose when you get hired is a nightmare.
The confusion doesn’t end just because you finally have a health insurance plan. Most Americans have no idea exactly how their plan works. That can cause some serious problems when you do have to use that coverage.
Stop fretting about health insurance and start feeling more confident about your plan by digging deep into these topics.
Know Who to Contact When You Have a Question
You likely have a lot of questions about your plan. Some may be general, while others may be more specific, but do you know who to ask?
Having the number of your insurance provider handy can be very helpful, but it’s even more helpful if you can contact an insurance broker.
At your workplace, that means knowing whose job it is to understand the company health insurance plan, and if you’re buying insurance on your own, it means finding an insurance broker to help you choose the right plan. They will also be there to answer your questions later, so you may never have to contact the insurance provider directly when you have a question.
Find In-Network Providers Before There’s a Problem
There’s a lot of trouble when it comes to in-network and out-of-network providers. In some cases, you may have to make the choice to go out-of-network, but there’s nothing worse than entering a clinic thinking you’re covered, only to get an outrageous bill in the mail later.
It’s important to find an in-network provider, but that’s going to be the last thing on your mind in an emergency situation. Instead of trying to look up providers online or calling someone when you’re in desperate need of medical care, find your providers before there’s a problem.
That means knowing who isn’t actively in your network too. That way, if you experience an emergency, you know what hospital to go to, and which one to say no to.
Understand the Lingo
Some of what makes health insurance so scary is that it can start to sound like you’re trying to understand a different language! You will feel a lot better about your coverage if you take the time to understand healthcare lingo.
Get started with terms like:
- PPO is a common health plan that requires a deductible before certain benefits kick in.
- HMO is a plan with low out-of-pocket expenses, with fewer choices for physicians and hospitals.
- HSA is similar to a 401k, allowing you to save money pre-tax for health expenses.
- A premium is the amount you pay to maintain your coverage.
- The deductible is what you have to pay before your health insurance kicks in.
- A copayment is the amount you’ll pay a healthcare provider, no matter what the outcome.
Have a Separate Account for Medical Emergencies
If you choose an HSA account, you will automatically be saving money that can be used in medical situations. However, that money adds up slowly and can be drained quickly. Even if you have good coverage, you may find that your deductible is thousands of dollars, which can be devastating.
Instead of a medical emergency catching you by surprise, you should have a separate savings account for medical emergencies. Strive to keep at least $1,000 in the account, but if you have less coverage with a higher deductible, you may want to strive to save even more.
Know You Can Change Your Plan on a Yearly Basis
It isn’t uncommon for people to choose a health care plan when they start a job, or they switch jobs, but then they never look at their coverage again. That is a huge mistake.
You’ll feel a lot more confident in your coverage if you reconsider your plan every year. You have the ability to change your plan each year, usually in the fall. Consider how much you’ve spent on medical expenses over the past year, your pharmacy costs, and if you anticipate using your insurance on a major procedure over the upcoming year.
Don’t feel like you’re at the mercy of a health insurance plan you don’t understand! Instead, take control of your insurance and feel confident the next time you hand your card over the counter at your next doctor’s appointment.