Navigating the Murky Health Insurance Seas

Note: I am not an expert in health insurance. If you have specific questions about coverage, contact someone in HR at your place of employment or a licensed insurance broker.

As a recent college grad (well relatively recent) and a new mom, I found some adult responsibilities that I had not thought about before, like paying for utilities and finding health insurance. My parents had always taken care of those less obvious expenses for me, so when it came time for me to take charge of my full cost of living, I was a little lost about how to set everything up.

Health insurance in particular was a confusing system to figure out. Because I know a few of you are at a similar stage, I wanted to share what I learned as I navigated through the world of health insurance. I will first say that the easiest way to get health insurance is to stay on your parents' insurance. If your parents are willing and able, you can remain on their insurance until the age of 26. Another express route to insurance is to apply for coverage through your employer and because many employers agree to pay a portion of the cost, it is often less expensive than buying it on your own. That said, there are plenty of exceptions to that rule. I worked at a retail company that offered health insurance, but charged an arm and a leg for next to no coverage and I would have been better served if I bought insurance on my own.

There are a ton of insurance companies out there and I did a lot of Internet searches for 'inexpensive insurance' when I was first looking for my own insurance. Doing that will help you get a ballpark of the cost of health insurance for you and tune you in to companies that cater to individuals, not just big corporate clients.

They use terms that can be confusing, so I'll define a couple of the most frequently used ones.

Deductible: how much you have to spend before the insurance kicks in.

CoInsurance: for each use of medical services, how much the insurance company covers and how much you will be expected to cover (for example, 70/30 and 80/20).

CoPay: not all plans have a copay. It is a flat fee you pay for each use of medical services.

The key is to think realistically about what kind of coverage you need. Do you almost never go to the doctor, but need it in case something horrible happens or do you only need it for a brief lapse in coverage? Then you might want something with a high deductible but low monthly payments. Do you intend to make more regular doctors appointments? Then a copay plan might work best. Also look at plan specifics for benefits you will make use of most often, such as maternity care, mental health, or lab services. You can't plan for everything, but taking the time to evaluate what you think you might need or want makes the process of health insurance selection much easier.

No comments:

Post a Comment