Purchasing and managing health insurance for a family can be a confusing task that leaves one with a headache at the end of the day. Health insurance has a lot of variables and fine print that must be managed; each additional family member added to the mix brings extra items to consider and of course increases the cost. Below we will take a look at covering all family members under the same health insurance policy, and why this type of coverage might be the best way to go.
Easiest Method: Use a Family Health Plan
Without question, the easiest method to get an entire family insured is to cover all of the family members under a single health insurance plan. This is typically the father or mother’s insurance which might be offered through their workplace or purchased independently. The other way to go about insuring an entire family is by purchasing individual health insurance plans for each member of the family, which can be a bit more expensive but also provides the ability to customize each plan as necessary.
For most families, having everyone under a single plan is the easiest and least expensive way to go. The only real downsides to covering the entire family under a single health insurance plan are that some providers don’t offer this type of inclusion, and families with a lot of health care needs can end up exhausting their coverage quickly. Using a family health insurance plan is generally seen as best for those families which are in relatively good health and simply need insurance to cover regular checkups and emergency care. If each family member is dealing with their own health issues on a regular basis, having individual plans for each person may be the best fit.
The Two Main Types of Family Health Plan
The most popular type of family health insurance plan is known as the “managed care plan”, which essentially packages up a network of health care providers that the entire family receives their medical services from. Managed care plans are further broken down into three different types:
Health Maintenance Organizations or “HMOs” – these are the most common types of family health insurance plan. The family chooses a doctor from those available under the plan, and this doctor becomes your main point of care. The upside is that getting specialist treatment is as simple as getting a referral from your main doctor; the downside is that HMOs rarely cover medical services outside of their network of health care providers.
Preferred Provider Organizations or “PPOs” – these are health insurance plans that offer the majority of coverage and discounts for using doctors and other providers inside of the health insurance company’s network, but also allow the family some coverage for using out-of-network providers.
Point of Service or “POS” plans – these plans are a combination of the above two; the family chooses a primary doctor but then has coverage outside of the network if necessary as well.
The other type of health insurance plan available is known as a “fee for service” plan. While these plans offer flexibility in which facilities and health care professionals one can use under their coverage, their care is not managed in any real way which can end up in disaster for a family. Fee for service plans also rarely include preventive care options, which are discussed below.
Ask about Preventive Care, Especially for Children
Health insurance providers are becoming more and more open to the idea that the best way to manage their clients’ health is to ensure that preventive care options are utilized as early as possible. For preventive care to work effectively, it has to start at a young age; the better a child’s health is managed, the better that child’s health will be as an adult.
Generally most managed care health insurance plans will offer a number of fully-covered preventive care options, including vaccinations, routine checkups, health and wellness care, anti-obesity counseling, and more. If these options are included as part of your family health insurance – use them! Countless studies have shown that it’s best to start healthy and stay healthy – fixing disease later is both expensive and bothersome.
There are Exceptions to Child and Spousal Coverage
As with any type of insurance policy, there are some exceptions to family health insurance and to how children and spouses are covered which can vary between companies. While legally adopted children are usually eligible for family coverage, foster children and non-adopted children are sometimes disallowed for inclusion under family plans. All health insurance providers have different regulations regarding how children are covered, so it’s worth reading through the fine print on your health insurance plan or giving a quick call to your provider to get things clarified.
In regards to spousal coverage, many insurers still do not consider same-sex partners to be married, regardless of any local or state laws that have been modified to allow them to do so. If you are a same-sex couple that is looking to purchase family health insurance, you will want to check with your insurance company to find out what kind of rules and regulations they have surrounding this. At worst, you will have to purchase two separate plans until the laws change to allow for same-sex marriages to be given the same status as traditional marriages.
The Most Important Step is Shopping Around
Finally, it’s prudent to leave you with a quick reminder that there is no substitute for shopping around the various insurance providers to find the best health coverage deals for your family. Health insurance can be incredibly expensive – especially when purchased for three or more people at the same time – and without comparing a handful of different health insurance providers it’s tough to know that you’re getting the best possible deal. If you’re in doubt, use our tool at the top of this page to get some free health insurance quotes, or ask around your friends and work colleagues to see which company has the best deals on health insurance. Good luck!
The team here at SelfHealthInsurance.com works hard to sort through the various health insurance companies to find the most affordable health insurance coverage available. To learn more about what family health insurance should cost you, scroll up to the top of this page and enter your ZIP code in the quick form. It’s that easy!