As a budget-conscious family, purchasing health insurance can be a tricky task. Whether you are purchasing it on your own or opting in through an employer, you likely want to get the most coverage possible without breaking the bank. By considering the following factors, you can ensure that you choose the most feasible plan for both your health, your budget, and your family.
1. Do your kids qualify for no-cost coverage?
Remember: it’s completely normal to go into shock after seeing the sky-high family health insurance premiums. Don’t panic. Here in Minnesota, many kids qualify for low- or no-cost coverage through the Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Before you make any decisions, find out if your family would qualify. This can drastically reduce your monthly health insurance premiums right off the bat.
2. What does your doctor accept?
If you want to keep your same primary care physician or pediatrician, then it’s important to consider what plans their office accepts. While some offices may accept only a narrow number of plans, others are linked with one of the 5,564 registered hospitals in the United States. In that case, your doctor’s office may accept more plans.
3. How could your health needs change in the near future?
Depending on your current life stage, you might consider getting a plan with more coverage. For example, if you are planning to have children in the coming years, you may consider something with thorough prenatal coverage. Be sure to weigh your actual plans more heavily than the “what ifs,” since it’s easy to get carried away and choose too expensive of a plan.
4. Does anyone in your family have any chronic conditions?
While you should account for your future health needs, current health needs are also critical. If you are living with a chronic condition, such as diabetes or MS, you may benefit from a lower deductible, lower co-pays, and a wider selection of doctors. This is especially true if you seek medical services for your condition often.
5. How does your age affect your choice?
For younger people, a high deductible and lower premium are usually safe bets. For older people, this may not be the case. A recent health study predicted that by 2030, six out of ten baby boomers will be living with a chronic condition. So, while your age is not the determining factor, it is undeniable that it affects your health needs.
6. Do you take any medications?
Just as you want to choose a plan that your doctor’s office accepts, it’s also important to find one that covers your medications. This is especially critical if you are taking a long-term prescription such as blood pressure medication. Likewise, if one of your kids has an asthma inhaler, then take that into account. Your insurer will be able to provide a list of medications so you can check see which medications are covered under different plans.
Another simple approach? Try calculating your options.
“First consider how much you expect to spend on health care,” Time Money suggests, summarizing advice from Justin Sydnor of the University of Wisconsin business school. “Then calculate whether your total payments would be higher with a low-deductible plan or a high-deductible plan.”
To streamline this process, remember that you can consult outside experts. Consider working with a financial planner to take an honest look at your financial situation. This will prevent you from over-spending while staying reasonable and covering risk.