The task of buying health insurance on your own can feel overwhelming. How much will it cost? What will it really cover? Where do I go to get started? There are many factors to consider. How can you find an affordable healthcare plan that also provides the coverage needed for you and your family?
Fortunately, there is no need to panic. Here are six quick, no-nonsense tips for buying an affordable healthcare plan that will make the task of shopping for a plan easier, more affordable, and put you ahead of the game.
Tips for Buying an Affordable Healthcare Plan
- Comparison shop. The average individual has 30, sometimes 40 healthcare plans to choose from, so it’s important to line plans up and compare monthly price, and all of the out-of-pocket costs that come from deductibles, copays and coinsurance. It’s hard to know which option is the most affordable healthcare plan for you until you know you’re comparing apples to apples.
- Do 5 minutes of research. Admit it – you probably don’t know what “coinsurance” or a “prescription drug formulary” is. That’s okay. Most don’t know the ins- and outs of insurance terminology, which can cause surprises when medical bills arrive. Do your homework and find out what you actually will have to pay out of your own pocket before you purchase an affordable healthcare plan.
- Check the doctor and hospital network. Every healthcare plan lists benefits for “in-network” and “out of network.” For the best pricing options, you will want to see doctors “in-network.” Make sure your favorite doctor or clinic is included in the network. You can typically find this network information at the insurance company website you are considering. The site should also be able to tell you which network has the broadest reach, which will give you the most options.
- Need prescription drug coverage? Check the deductible. Many plan overviews list “$50 copay” for prescription coverage, and if you have a $200 Rx drug you take every month, that copay savings can look like a great win. But check to see if there is a prescription drug deductible listed in the fine print. Many drug benefits come with a deductible that is separate from the medical deductible. Knowing if there is a drug deductible and what the cost could total over the course of a year might help you determine if you need a healthcare plan with richer benefit coverage. This is particularly important if you take specialty drugs covered by health insurance. If you are comfortable with a higher prescription deductible to keep your monthly insurance costs more affordable, discounts from Discount Drug Network are a great way to help combat your drug deductible gap before your health insurance company benefit kick in.
- See if you qualify for financial aid. More than 87% of Americans who have health insurance through the federal marketplace qualified for a financial subsidy on their health insurance in 2015. That’s an average cost savings of $263 per individual per month! If you don’t believe you can afford health insurance, think again and check this calculator to see if you might qualify for a tax subsidy to help pay the cost of your health insurance.
- Get covered. Did you know it’s illegal for most people to not carry health insurance? As part of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, failing to buy a healthcare plan can result in a fine of $325 per person or 2% of your income for 2015, whichever is higher. The fine is applied to your income taxes, so if you expect a refund every year but don’t have health insurance, you could wind up paying money back to the government. The fine goes up to $695 per person in 2016, or 2.5% of your income.