Top 5 Things To Know When You Compare Health Insurance Plans

When you are young and new to the world of insurance, it is important to know what to look for when you compare health insurance plans.  There are a ton of plans and companies that want to sell you one of their policies.  If you are not careful, you can end up buying something that is not affordable or comprehensive enough.  With that in mind, here are some things to keep in mind when analyzing the right medical insurance plan for you and your family.

The Premium

The premium will probably be what grabs your attention right off the bat.  You cannot compare health insurance options without knowing the premium.  After all, you may not have a claim, but you definitely will be paying something to the insurance company each month.

The problem with only paying attention to the premiums is that you can buy a bad product from a bad insurance company if you just look at how much a plan costs.  Ever heard the saying, “you get what you paid for?”  The same goes with an insurance plan.

While the premium is important, especially with the increase in the cost of medical care, there are other things that must be considered when you compare health insurance plans.

The Benefits Available

Some plans cost less on a monthly basis because they leave more for you to pay out of pocket if you were to get sick or be in an accident.  If you want a plan that leaves you with less of a financial responsibility then you will have to pay more in your premium.

The main benefit provisions to look for are the deductible, coinsurance, copays, and out of pocket maximums.  As you compare health insurance benefits, be sure to take into account what you are willing and able to spend if you were to have a large medical expense.

The Network of the Insurance Company

Most insurance companies have networks of doctors that they contract with to provide lower cost healthcare services.  The billed charges of the services are discounted through the network, but in exchange, doctors and hospitals are able to attract more patients.

As you compare health insurance plans, make sure to choose an insurance company that has a network that your healthcare providers are a part of.  Do not just think of your family doctor.  Remember specialists, labs, and even pharmacies.  You can find yourself having to change doctors or pay big sums of money out of pocket if your provider is not in your new insurance company’s network.

The Health Insurance Marketplaces

The health insurance marketplaces, or exchanges, outlined in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), or Obamacare, are online locations where individuals and small businesses can quickly and easily compare health insurance plans.  Do not ignore these marketplaces, as they could have good options for you.

That does not mean that the marketplace is a better choice than other insurance options.  But it might be, so check  it out.

Tax Credits

Something that might make your decision easier is a tax credit.  If you make less than 400% of the poverty level, you are eligible for a tax credit if you purchase medical insurance through an exchange.  Check on this as it can help bring down the cost of a health insurance plan.

Compare Health Insurance Plans to Find the Best Fit

It can be time consuming, but if you want the most affordable and comprehensive plan for you and your family, make sure to take the time to compare health insurance plans in every way possible.  If you look at health insurance marketplaces and take into account premiums, plan designs, and networks, you can find a great fit.

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Health Insurance for Individuals – How to Find a Good Plan

When you are an individual looking for an insurance plan all on your own, you have a lot of decisions to make.  Where should you go to find medical coverage?  What kind of premium is available?  Is low cost insurance anywhere to be found?  What kind of plan design should you purchase?  All of these questions are important in finding health insurance for individuals.

Health Insurance for Individuals is Different than Group Coverage

Health insurance for individuals can be totally different than receiving your medical and pharmacy benefits through an employer.  With an employer you have a small selection of plans available to you.  The good thing about a group plan is that some of the premium is paid for you.  It is not that way with an individual plan.  You will pay the entire premium on your own.  However, you are free to pick from a much larger plan design selection.

Individual Insurance is Now Easier to Come By

In the past, health insurance for individuals could be hard to find.  Or at least a quality plan was hard to find.  Insurance companies could deny you based on your health history, and there was less regulation over the rise of insurance premiums.

With the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), also known as Obamacare, being denied for preexisting conditions is illegal, and insurance companies have to explain extreme premium increases.

As for finding a quality plan, the Affordable Care Act created the health insurance marketplaces, online exchanges where you can compare plan designs and premiums easily and quickly.  If you have trouble figuring things out on your own, there will be customer service representatives called navigators that you can call for assistance.

While you do not have an employer to help pay for the cost of an individual plan, there are tax subsidies available if you purchase an insurance plan through the online marketplace.  If you earn less than 400% of the poverty level and are not eligible for Medicaid you can get premium assistance.

Health Insurance for Individuals is Still Available from Insurance Companies

The marketplaces are administered by the states and not all insurance companies participate.  In addition, while there is a spread of available plan designs on the exchanges, the plans might not fit everyone.

If these things are the case, you can still apply for health insurance for individuals directly from the insurance companies.  You will have to do a little more work on your part, and tax credits are not available, but you will have a bigger selection of plans available, and good premiums can still be found.

Health Insurance Brokers

One way to make the search for health insurance for individuals easier is to hire a broker.  There are brokers available online as well as in person.  If you want to explore your options on the individual market but do not want to do all the legwork, a broker could be the way to go.

Health insurance for individuals is going to become more and more popular thanks to the health insurance marketplaces.  If you do not receive coverage from an employer, good plans are still available.

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Health Insurance for Unemployed Young Adults

Anyone—especially a young person—who has ever been without a job knows the immense stress that can overwhelm your life.  One of the biggest worries is how medical bills will be paid.  After all, the easiest way to be covered with medical insurance is to be a part of a group plan.  There are less pre-existing condition exclusions to worry about, and an employer will usually subsidize the cost of the plan, making it much cheaper than going out on your own and buying an insurance policy.  However, if the day comes that your job is no longer around, know that comprehensive health insurance for unemployed young people can be found at an affordable rate.  Here are ways to make that happen.

COBRA Health Insurance for Unemployed

If you worked for a company that employs more than 20 people, then COBRA insurance is available.  COBRA allows former employees to continue on the medical plan that they were a part of when they were employed.  The access to quality insurance is a good thing about COBRA.

However, there is a significant downside to this form of health insurance for unemployed young people, and that is the cost.  To be on a COBRA plan, you are required to pay the entire monthly premium of the plan (plus 2% for administrative costs).  Since the premium was most likely partly paid for by the company, the cost of COBRA insurance will be a big jump from what was being paid previously.

Parent’s Plan

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as PPACA or Obamacare, allows people to be enrolled on a parent’s plan until the child reaches age 26.  This can be a terrific option of health insurance for unemployed young people.  If your mom or dad has group insurance, they can enroll you in their plan if you lose your job.

The upside of this is that to add a child to a plan is not very expensive.  In fact, if another child is already on the plan then there will probably not be an additional cost.

Marketplace Health Insurance for Unemployed Young Adults

The Affordable Care Act set up health insurance marketplaces, also known as exchanges, where people can go online and shop for health insurance.  The exchanges might be a good option if a young person is having trouble finding good, affordable coverage elsewhere.

The marketplaces can be a great place to find health insurance for unemployed young people since the federal government provides tax credits to individuals that earn less than 400 percent of the poverty level but are not eligible for Medicaid.  Many unemployed young people will fall in this category.

The marketplaces are also good places to find health insurance for your children.

Medicaid

While Medicaid isn’t technically health insurance for unemployed young people, it can be a good way to help pay for medical expenses.  Medicaid is administered by the states, and eligibility varies by state.  PPACA expanded Medicaid eligibility, but not every state has implemented the new Medicaid rules.

If your child needs Medicaid, but you are not eligible, CHIP insurance is available.

If Medicaid or CHIP is something you are interested in, check out your state’s Medicaid website.

Find Health Insurance One Way or Another

With the cost of health care continuing to rise, quality and affordable health coverage is needed.  Fortunately, finding health insurance for unemployed young adults is not as difficult as it used to be.  Government programs and group plans are available to keep from going broke when you least can afford it.

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Health Insurance for Low Income Earners – Where to Find Coverage

As most everyone knows, health insurance is not an inexpensive purchase.  Medical services continue to increase in cost, and the essential benefits of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), or Obamacare as many know it, have made the cost of medical plans increase dramatically.  Even with new measures in place to keep premiums in check, it is difficult to find low cost health insurance.  However, health insurance for low income earners can be affordable and comprehensive enough to provide good coverage is medical services are needed.  Getting sick should not mean going broke, and here are some ways to avoid that.

Health Insurance Marketplaces

The health insurance marketplaces, or exchanges as they were originally known, are great opportunities to obtain health insurance for low income households.  Through the marketplaces, individuals, families, and small businesses will be able to compare multiple medical and prescription drug plans and premiums side-by-side.  Not only is this a convenient way to purchase health insurance, but people with low incomes will be able to receive help paying the premiums.

If an individual makes less than 4 times the poverty level, he or she will be eligible for tax credits to help offset the cost of the insurance plan.  The online marketplace enrollment site will walk people through the process of determining if they are eligible for the subsidy.

Check here to see if an exchange is something that might suit your needs.

Mom or Dad’s Medical Plan

If the goal is to obtain health insurance for low income young adults, it is worthwhile to look into the medical plan of their parents.  The Affordable Care Act allows people to stay covered on their parent’s insurance plan until they reach age 26.  So if you are an adult, but under age 26, and you’re looking for a way to afford good healthcare coverage, your parent’s plan will be a great low cost, or even cheap, health insurance option.

If another child is already covered on the parent’s plan, the extra child many times will be able to be covered without an additional cost.  In essence, this is a no-cost way to obtain health insurance for low income young people.

Increase Out of Pocket Exposure

One of the easiest ways to find affordable health insurance for low income earners is by finding a plan with high out of pocket provisions, such as deductibles and copays.  This leaves less risk for the insurance company, thus the premium will be lower.

Of course, a plan with a high deductible is risky for the policyholder.  The plan may be inexpensive, but if a sickness or accident comes about, there will be a lot of money owed to doctors and hospitals.  However, the billing office of a healthcare provider will many times work out a payment plan over a period of months; if a health insurance premium is not paid, the policy will be cancelled.  There is a chance of a high medical bill if a plan with high out of pocket provisions is purchased, but at least the plan will be affordable.

Medicaid

If health insurance for low income residents is not affordable, Medicaid could be a viable option.  Medicaid is administered by the states, so eligibility is different all over the country.  PPACA expanded Medicaid coverage in 2014, so check with your state’s Medicaid office to see if you are eligible.

Health insurance for low income earners does not have to be unaffordable.  Take a look around and affordable and comprehensive coverage can be found.

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Should Young People Apply for the COBRA Health Insurance Extension?

One of the scariest things about losing a job, transferring to a new job, or going into business for yourself is wondering what will happen to my health insurance.  If you were insured through your previous employer, it can be a little overwhelming thinking about what you will do about your health care needs.  Fortunately, there is COBRA to help you along the way.  COBRA health insurance has some drawbacks, but it can help you stay covered.

What is COBRA Health Insurance?

COBRA health insurance is a law that allows an employee (or a dependent) who loses health insurance due to a qualifying event to stay covered through the group plan of their employer.  The coverage will be identical to what the individual had before the loss of coverage.

What are the Qualifying Events?

COBRA health insurance is available if the loss of coverage is due to any of the following:

  • Voluntary or involuntary termination of employment due to any reason other than gross misconduct
  • Reduction in hours of employment, thereby making the employee ineligible for coverage under their group plan
  • If the employee becomes eligible for Medicare, dependents become eligible for COBRA
  • Divorce or legal separation allows dependents to become eligible for COBRA
  • Death of the covered employee allows dependents to become eligible for COBRA
  • If a child loses dependent child status, the child become eligible for COBRA

How Long Is the Enrollment Period

An individual must be enrolled in COBRA by the later of:

  • 60 days from the loss of coverage, or
  • The date the COBRA election notice is provided by the plan administrator

How Long Does COBRA last?

If the loss of coverage is due to employment termination or a reduction of hours, COBRA health insurance is available for 18 months from the loss of coverage.  If the loss of coverage is due to any of the following, then COBRA is available to dependents for 36 months:

  • Employee becoming eligible for Medicare (COBRA is available for 36 months from Medicare eligibility date)
  • Divorce or legal separation
  • Death of employee
  • Loss of child status

What Does COBRA Cost?

A downside of COBRA is that the subscriber must pay the entire premium of the plan (plus 2% generally for administration fees).  This can come as a shock to some people who are used to just paying a percentage of the premium through their employer’s plan.  For example, if the full premium is $500, but the employer just requires a payment of $100, then the former employee will have his or her monthly insurance cost increased by $410 ($500 + 2% = $510) – $100 = $410.

Is COBRA Only Available for Medical Insurance?

An individual can sign up for COBRA for medical, dental, and vision coverage, as long as they were enrolled in these plans before the loss of coverage.

Are All Employers Required to Offer COBRA Coverage?

No, COBRA is only required for employers with at least 20 employees.

Should a Young Person Apply for COBRA Health Insurance Extension?

This is a tricky question, and it depends on the new health insurance plans available, the cost of the plans, and the health care needs of the individual.  Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), insurance companies can no longer deny coverage for pre-existing conditions.  Therefore, it is not necessary to stay on COBRA because you are afraid of not being able to get coverage elsewhere.

However, if you look around and find that other coverage options are not as price-friendly, or do not cover the same level of benefits, it could be worth it to stay on COBRA.

But if you move to a new employer who offers health insurance, it will almost always be beneficial to switch to their plan since they will most likely subsidize a portion of the health insurance cost.

Remember, though, that there is a limit to how long you can keep the COBRA health insurance extension, so sooner or later you will have to find a new plan in which to enroll.

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