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8 Tips for Buying Your Own Health Insurance

Mother and daughter shopping for health insurance online and illustrating some tips for buying your own health insurance

Buying health insurance can be a complicated process for many people. There are so many different facets when you buy health insurance that it can be easy to feel lost or not know what to do in order to get the best health insurance plan for your money. By following these tips, you’ll be able to purchase health insurance with confidence and know what benefits, costs, and limitations you’re agreeing to when you enroll.

1. Review Your Finances, Budget, and Tax Obligations

When you make any purchase, it is important to know how much you are willing to spend. Take a look at your monthly finances and see how much income you receive while taking into account other regular expenses. This will give you a ballpark figure of how much you’re able to spend on healthcare coverage.

Some affordable health insurance plans provided by Covered California or other Affordable Care Act programs might be too much for you to pay. Calculating your budget properly can allow to you to find a plan that won’t be a financial hardship. Plus, there is a chance you’ll be able to get health insurance that provides wider coverage than you had previously if you discover that you have more money in your budget than you had expected.

If you don’t think you can afford medical insurance or just don’t want it, you still have to incorporate a tax obligation into your budget. People without health insurance plans will have to pay a tax penalty when they file their taxes, so that amount must be considered if you refuse to purchase a health plan. It may be worth purchasing a cheap individual health insurance plan in lieu of paying the tax penalty, depending on your budget and needs.

2. Gather All of Your Health History and Assess Your Needs

When you enroll for a health insurance plan, at minimum, you’ll need to provide your name, birthdate, address, and coverage start date. However, if you want certain types of additional coverage, you’ll need to provide more information. Know and list any pre-existing conditions that you may have such as diabetes, asthma, allergies, etc. If you took certain prescription medications for a long period of time, provide the start and end dates of the prescription along with the dosage. If you had any surgeries or hospitalizations, make sure that those are mentioned in your application as well. If you know your family’s medical history, provide that along with your own.

While these may be seem like extra private details, this will actually help speed up the application and approval process. It can also help guide you to a plan that can cover specific medical needs or potential health problems you may experience in the future. It’s best to have all this information provided so you don’t accidentally get a plan that won’t provide coverage for a recurring health issue.

3. Enroll and Purchase a Plan On Time

It is important to know when to enroll for an insurance plan for the upcoming year. If you miss the deadline, you won’t be able to get a health insurance plan without experiencing a major life event such as having a baby or getting married. Too many people end up missing the deadline, become uninsured, and needing to pay the tax obligation.

Open Enrollment for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act for 2018 starts on November 1, 2017 and ends on December 15, 2017. Enrollment for California health insurance through Covered California is also available during that period. Again, you won’t be able to get a health insurance plan outside of Open Enrollment unless you have a qualifying major life event, so it is best to get a plan within the time frame.

4. Compare and Contrast All of Your Options

It is imperative that you compare health insurance plans to make sure you are getting the best one for your money. Don’t be afraid to shop around and get different quotes for different plans. This way you’ll be able to see what you can afford, see what type of coverage you can get for your money, and see if you’ll be able to get wider coverage than you originally expected. It is also worthwhile to see if you qualify for other health coverage options due to extreme financial hardship or other qualifiers.

5. Don’t Auto-Renew

While it is convenient to have your current health insurance plan renew itself automatically each year, your health needs may have changed. You don’t want to be stuck with a plan that won’t cover any new health needs that may have arisen. On top of that, there may be new insurance options available to you that are cheaper or provide more coverage at the price you are currently paying. This small inconvenience could save you more money in the long term.

6. Know the True Cost of Your Plan

Having a cheap health insurance premium is the most important thing, right? Well, not always. While it is good to have an inexpensive premium, you should look at the plan more thoroughly to see what kind of coverage you are truly paying for. How much is a typical copay? What services or procedures are excluded from the health plan? What are the deductibles (if any)? Is there a cap on certain medical coverages?

It is important to not only know how much you are paying for your health plan, but also how much you are expected to pay if you receive medical care. It might be worth paying extra on a premium in order to ensure a smaller copay or extra coverage on prescription medications if you have regular, frequent medical needs.

7. Review the Insurance Plan’s Network

Do you like a certain doctor or specialist? Then you must become aware of an insurance plan’s network. Some insurance plans may require you to visit a physician or hospital that is within their specific network of healthcare providers or you won’t receive coverage. If you are considering a health plan, you may want to see if your preferred physician is listed within that health plan’s network before you purchase a policy from them.

8. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help

Even following all of these tips can still make a person feel overwhelmed when purchasing a health insurance plan. However, you don’t have to do this alone. Certified officials working with the ACA and Covered California are happy to assist you in-person or over the phone to find you the best health insurance plan. Insurance companies also have licensed agents that can help answer any questions you have and help you fill out your health insurance application. There is nothing worse than feeling unsure about your health plan. Don’t be afraid to reach out to make sure you are getting all of your needs met without confusion or worry.

Still want some assistance finding a health insurance plan? Freeway Insurance can help. Freeway can help guide you to a health plan that will fit your needs at the best price possible. Give us a call at 877-583-1475 or get a free health insurance quote online to get started.

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