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Things to Ask When Shopping For Insurance

Posted on: August 13th, 2012 by Kristen Marie

looking at an insurance policyShopping for an insurance policy can be intimidating and it can be hard to understand the difference between plans as well as what would be best for you and/or your family.  Whenever you are shopping for a plan, make sure to always consider multiple plans and also to ask the important questions up front so you fully understand the plan.  Here are some questions you should always ask when you are considering a health insurance plan and/or comparing a health plan to COBRA insurance.

1.  How much is the monthly premium for the plan?  Can it change?  How much?  Asking this question up front is a good idea because cost is normally something everyone is thinking about.  However it is important not only to ask about the premium cost, but also to ask about if the premium amount can change and if there is a limit on how much it can increase.  Some health insurance companies are known to hook people with low premiums and then significantly up the costs after 3 or 6 months.

2.  Are you a state approved health insurance provider?  In order to provide insurance to you, the company must be authorized in your state to sell and provide insurance.  Always ask what states the insurance company is authorized in.  Also if you move or travel frequently, make sure to ask if the plan works when traveling or if you move to another state.

3.  How long is the policy length? What costs are there to cancel early? It is very important to know how long the policy you are purchasing lasts.  Some policies are very short term while others lock you in for a much longer period.  Since it is difficult to predict when you will get a job with health insurance again, it is a good idea to choose a plan that is flexible.

4.  How much are the co-payments and deductibles?  Co-payments and deductibles can end up adding large expenses to your health insurance plan.  A deductible is the amount you have to spend before the insurance will start to pay.  A co-payment is how much you have to pay whenever you go to the doctor, fill a prescription, or visit the emergency room for example.  Find out the the costs of these are and then estimate how often you go to the doctor to get a rough idea of how much you may spend annually on these things.

5.  How much does it cost for out of network care?  In the event you ever need care outside of your network, it is important to know those costs ahead of time.  Visiting a specialist many times may fall out of the network and you need to know what the cost will be if this occurs.

6.  Is there a coinsurance plan?  What is the maximum amount?  Coinsurance plans are very common but can also be very expensive if you have major medical expenses.  With coinsurance you are responsible for paying a percentage of the insurance costs, up to a maximum amount in most cases.

7.  Is there an annual limit?  Ideally you want a health insurance plan without an annual limit.  Although no one thinks they will ever reach their annual limit, of say $1 million, you can quickly reach that if you have a serious illness or major medical need.

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