Choosing the right health care plan for your needs can be a difficult choice and one that cannot easily be rectified if you choose wrong. When it comes to finding the right plan for your needs, there are a lot of variables to consider.
To choose the right plan, start by taking a step back and thinking about your lifestyle and health requirements. You can’t always predict what’s going to happen with your health, but you can be prepared to the best of your ability. Here are some helpful tips for choosing the right healthcare plan.
What Are Your Basic Requirements?
Take a look at your health history over the past few years to determine how many times you visited the doctor and if any impending health issues could cause you to require more coverage. Having this information will help you determine if your current coverage is adequate or if you should look for a better option during open enrollment.
A lot can change in a year. Babies are born, people get sick, and income changes. Being able to take a high-level view of those changes in your life and predict how they might impact your healthcare requirements will help you make the right choice.
Consider the Cost
In an ideal world, there would be no price tag on good health. In reality, staying well can be expensive bordering on impossible for some. Unfortunately, that’s not about to change. From the year 2005-2015, workers’ out-of-pocket family healthcare premium contributions jumped 83%. While the study, which was conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, showed that only 24% of that increase took place from 2010-2015, the data shows that while things have started to stabilize, prices are still soaring.
When looking at the cost, it’s important to consider the needs you outlined previously versus what you’re paying for the plan. Then factor in premiums, deductibles, copay, out-of-network fees, and so on. Your goal is to pay only for what you need.
If you have a family doctor that you trust and prefer over others, you’ll need to take a look at the fine print, as many plans necessitate that you use doctors from their network. It’s up to you to decide what matters more: the plan or the doctor. This can be a really difficult choice for a lot of people.
If you decide that the plan matters more than the doctor, then you’ll have some additional work deciding which doctor to choose. Do some research to get reviews on the available doctors and how accessible they are. The physical location of their office will be one important consideration, especially if you have children or health issues to consider. Additionally, their current caseload, office hours, and on-call or emergency procedures.
The Fundamentals and Beyond
While most healthcare plans are built around minimal essential coverage (MEC) in the US, it’s always important to read the fine print before making a final decision. Sure, the insurance provider may face fines for not providing MEC, but that doesn’t help you in the meantime when all of a sudden your mental health services aren’t covered. Then, you end up with a bill you can’t pay or worse, without a service you need. The stress of the appeals and corrective action you’d need to take could make your health even worse.
Beyond the essentials, you also need to consider the “extras” such as dental and vision care. Children are often covered in this area under the MEC rules or similar regulations in other countries, but that coverage tends to end by the time the child reaches double digits while leaving adults uncovered.
Vision and dental are often key selling points on group insurance plans through an employer. When looking at these plans and the cost involved, it’s important to (again) reassess your needs versus the expenditure. If you are in a relationship, take a look at your partner’s coverage options and determine if one of you can opt out. That being said, if you know that your child will need braces in the future, you might want all the coverage you can get.
How to Decide
Unfortunately, the diversity in people’s lifestyles and needs that makes the world such an interesting place also makes it impossible to make a blanket statement about which healthcare plan is best.
Take it one step at a time, considering your needs, your wants, and then your options. Weigh the pros and cons and prepare to crunch some numbers to find that elusive balance between affordability and preparedness.