Purchasing medical insurance is not easy or fun and can take up a lot of your time. And of course, without the best available information and guidance, you may end up buying the wrong policy and pay thousands of dollars more than you should.
We have created a “Top-Ten” list to help guide consumers as they get ready to buy insurance. We’re confident this list of recommendations will save you time, money and frustration!
- Carefully choose the websites you visit. If you see many advertisements mixed in with the content, you may want to find another website. The articles you see should be relevant and fairly up-to-date. If you are reading an article that appears to have just been written, and it is actually a few years old, this website probably won’t help you. And you may possibly receive outdated and inaccurate information.
- State-specific websites are always the best to use. That is, if you live in Virginia, most of the content on the site should revolve around Virginia medical issues, not other states. If a website specializes in travel abroad and you’re interested in an HSA, you’re on the wrong website! However, we did write a nice article if you plan on traveling abroad.
- Never pay an agent or broker a fee. You don’t have to. Agents and brokers are compensated by the carriers, and there is never a reason for you to pay them any additional amount. Also, rarely are there ever any fees when you apply for coverage, although short-term plans may impose a small administrative charge. But they are usually only $10-$20. Some of the questionable policy options online charge a $100 application fee. Stay away from those types of offers.
- If you are replacing an existing policy, request an effective date far enough in advance so that you have time to review the new plan. For example, by asking for an effective date 45-60 days from the application date, you’ll be able to closely examine policy differences with your broker. Of course, if you need coverage immediately, this may not be possible. If you are in great health, the underwriting process may only take 7-14 days so in that situation, 30 days is enough.
- Be aware of “pre-existing condition” clauses and how it affects you. If you are being treated for a condition, it’s important to understand if the new policy will cover your medical costs and if there will be a waiting period. If you take a non-generic prescription, the policy should not just cover generic prescriptions. And mail order should be an option. After 2014, pre-existing conditions will not be a factor.
- Don’t invite strangers to your home just so you can view a proposal. If a broker or company can not email, fax or send (through the mail) a specific proposal and explanation of coverages, then find someone new to work with. Most (perhaps all) reputable health care professionals can easily provide the information you need within an hour…and often within a few minutes. There is never a reason someone would have to make a home visit.
- Only purchase coverage from a reputable company. If you never heard of the carrier, and neither did anybody else, it may be a stripped-down discount policy that will provide very little benefit to you. If you are asked to pay a large application fee, it is likely it is one of these types of policies. Avoid them. If the company won’t send you details in writing, that’s a warning that something is not quite right.
- Check your provider network. You can be paying the lowest rate in the state. But if you have to drive 100 miles to be treated, your policy won’t be very valuable to you. Also check availability of hospitals and other facilities. At least a few of your local hospitals should be included in the Network. If they aren’t, it might be a good idea to consider a different health insurance company. Sometimes, smaller local companies will have very competitive rates.
- Don’t buy additional riders unless you have carefully reviewed their cost and benefit. Supplemental accident, life, dental, vision and maternity are a few of the most popular add-ons to policies. If they’re not cost-effective for you, then take a pass. Most riders can be added at a later date so it’s not imperative to make a rushed decision on them. Often (not all of the time), they are not a good buy.
- Don’t do it alone! Websites like ours, which provide free quotes and information, are great tools that can only help you. You buy medical coverage every few years while we help thousands of individuals and families each month. We can help! Use the “Get Free Quotes” space on this page. And our advice is also free.
We help consumers purchase reputable plans at the best possible rates. There are never any fees for the assistance we provide and you can always contact us with your health care concerns or questions. Our goal is to save you money by finding the best available coverage for you.