When you select a health insurance plan, you may find yourself wondering if the health insurance company providing it makes much difference. When purchasing health insurance benefits, it is important to consider the big picture. That means choosing a plan that fits your financial and health care needs from a company you trust and feel good about doing business with.
Here are five questions to help guide you in selecting the best health insurance company for you:
1. What companies offer health insurance plans that make sense for you?
First, you need to know what you are looking for in terms of health insurance coverage. Are you buying major medical health insurance that qualifies as minimum essential coverage under Obamacare? Are you looking for temporary coverage in the form of short term health insurance?1 Do you need supplemental benefits to help with your deductible and out-of-pocket medical expenses?
Not all health insurance companies offer all types of health insurance plans. Even if you buy major medical health insurance through a state-based or federally facilitated exchange, you will find that not all companies offer all metal plans or even offer the same plans in all regions. Furthermore, insurance companies may offer different plan types in the private health insurance marketplace.
2. Are premium rates competitive for comparable coverage?
You don’t want to pick a health insurance plan on premium alone. However, once you do narrow your options based on additional criteria such as coverage-period length, health care needs, deductible, and coinsurance and copayment amounts, compare what different companies charge in premium for similar coverage.
3. Does the company offer plans with provider networks that include your preferred doctors and hospitals?
Once you have narrowed down what type of health insurance plan you want to buy and begin to compare what different companies have to offer, be sure to look at provider networks. Is the plan an HMO or PPO?
If you are buying short term health insurance from healthedeals.com, you may not be required to use a provider network but will gain access to discounted care when utilizing providers from an associated network.
If you buy an Obamacare plan on or away from the state-based and federally facilitated health insurance exchanges, you may be subject to narrow provider networks that limit where you can receive covered health care. Check the plan’s provider listings to ensure the doctors and hospitals covered are the ones you prefer and/or may conveniently access.
Always read plan details carefully to verify network type, and then check provider listings through the insurance company’s website or by calling its customer service department. Furthermore, you should also verify with your doctor that he or she still accepts the health plan you might buy. Networks change and websites can sometimes include outdated information, so it is wise to be diligent.
4. Do the company’s customer service capabilities meet your needs?
It may sound like a small matter, but your experience interacting with a health insurance company can make a big difference—especially if you need to inquire about a claim or need help understanding your plan benefits.
Before you buy, call customer service with questions. Is it easy to talk to a person, or do you go through an extensive phone menu? Is the wait time reasonable? Is the representative helpful and knowledgeable? Also visit the company’s website. Is it user-friendly? What capabilities does it offer plan enrollees—the ability to access test results, medical records, claims and other information, and pay premiums and medical bills online?
5. Are other consumers satisfied with the company you plan to buy from?
Ask around and find out what companies the people you know use for health insurance coverage or have used in the past. Are they, or were they, satisfied?
The Better Business Bureau and Consumer Reports are also helpful places to research health insurance company reviews, ratings and rankings.
Do you need help deciding which health insurance option is best for you and your family? Our free ebook Which Health Insurance Plan Type is Right for You? can help.