Many people receive health insurance through a group plan that is provided by their employer or their spouse’s employer. However, if your employer does not provide health insurance benefits, if you are unemployed, or if you are dissatisfied with the coverage that your employer does provide, you may be looking for health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace.
Whether you are considering the options that your employer offers or you looking at different plans that are available through the Marketplace, there’s a lot to consider. There are a variety of health insurance plans to choose from, which can make navigating through all of the different options a bit tricky. It goes without saying that you want to choose a plan that will best meet your needs; but how many plans should you look at before you make your final decision?
If you’re shopping for health insurance, read on to find out how many plans you should assess, as well as other important factors that should be taken into consideration before you sign on the dotted line.
What Types of Health Insurance Plans are There?
When you’re shopping for health insurance, the first thing that you should understand is the difference between the plans that are available, as there are four different choices. These plans include:
- Health Maintenance Organization (HMO). With this type of plan, you’ll have to choose a primary care physician and see in-network healthcare providers; except in emergencies. HMO deductibles tend to be the lowest, making this plan an affordable option.
- Preferred Provider Organization (PPO). You don’t need to select a primary care physician, it will cover out-of-network doctors, and don’t need referrals to see specialists.
- Point of Service Plans (POS). With most POS plans, you will need to select a primary care physician, who will need to give you a referral to see a specialist. You can see out-of-pocket doctors, but you will have to pay more for their services.
- Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO). You won’t need a primary care physician with an EPO and deductibles tend to be low; however, this type of plan will not cover out-of-network services, unless it is an emergency.
Which Plan Should You Choose?
Which type of plan should you choose? It depends on your specific situation. Consider your healthcare needs, as well as the needs of your family. If you’ve required a lot of medical care in the past, you may want to select a plan that covers out-of-pocket costs and doesn’t require referrals , such as a PPO; however, if you are generally healthy and you want to keep out-of-pockets down, an HMO may be a better choice for you. You should also consider the network plans that are offered. Even if out-of-network care is covered, staying in-network is always less expensive. The larger the network, the more doctors you’ll have access at a more affordable rate.
You should also consider the out-of-pocket costs. This includes deductibles, co-pays, and the percentage that you’ll have to pay for any services you receive. Each plan will outline the out-of-pocket expenses, so make sure you consider them before you make a decision. While you do want good coverage, you don’t want to spend a tremendous amount for services that you don’t need. Lastly, consider the benefits that each healthcare plan offers. The most affordable plan isn’t always the better option; especially if it doesn’t offer the benefits you need. If you require specific services and those services aren’t covered by your plan, you’ll end up paying higher costs in the long run – even if it seems like the plan is more affordable.
How Many Plans Should You Consider?
Generally, it’s recommended that you assess at least three to four different health insurance plans before you narrow down your options and decide on the one that will best suit your needs. When you are comparing and contrasting different plans, make sure you pay close attention to all of the details so that you can choose an option that will work for you and your family.
If you are having a hard time trying to decide which health insurance plan to go with, speak to a reputable agent that specializes in health insurance. Together, you can discuss your specific needs, and an agent will point you in the right direction for a health insurance policy that will offer you the best coverage at the most affordable price.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to choosing health insurance, it’s important that you consider your options before you make a final decision. The coverage your plan offers will have a major impact the type of care you can receive – and the amount you will spend out of your own pocket.