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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Is Free Health Insurance Available to Young People?

It can be difficult to be a young person and be on the hunt for medical insurance.  You might be a student or early in your career, and the cost of a decent plan can be more than you can afford.  Fortunately, if you fall into certain categories, there are ways to get free health insurance.  While not everyone will qualify for no cost insurance, it is worth looking into if you are having trouble paying for your medical needs.  And don’t forget that due to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), or Obamacare as many people know it, there is a tax to be paid if you do not have an insurance plan.  While the tax is small to begin with, eventually it will increase to be a significant expense.

Look at Your Parents’ Medical Plan

One of the key features of PPACA is the fact that a child can stay on their parent’s medical plan until the child reaches age 26.  If your parent has a plan, there is a chance you can be added at no extra cost, but not necessarily.  If your parent is on a plan on only covering himself or herself, then there will be a cost to add you.  Or if both of your parents are on a plan with just the two of them, then there will probably be a cost to add you.  However, if the plan that your parent has already includes another child, then adding you will most likely not add an additional premium cost.

Adding you to an existing plan can be a great way to receive free health insurance.

Check the Insurance Plan at Your Own Job

If you work at a place that offers you benefits, check the plan that you are offered at work before going elsewhere to look for free health insurance.  While most employers require a premium contribution from their employees, some provide the insurance free of charge.

Free Health Insurance on the Health Insurance Exchanges

Beginning in 2014, PPACA created state-run health insurance exchanges.  These exchanges are online marketplaces that allow the user to go on the Internet and comparison shop for the medical plan that best suits their needs.

In addition, PPACA has allowed for tax credits for low income earners if health insurance is bought through the exchange.  If you earn less than 400% of the poverty level you are eligible for this subsidy.  The lower your income, the higher the credit.  The marketplaces will be able to determine online if you are eligible and can assist in reducing the monthly premium.  If your income is low enough, you may be able to buy free health insurance.

Medicaid

Medicaid is a state-run program that assists low income households with medical assistance.  If health insurance is difficult to afford, check with your state Medicaid program to find out details and your eligibility.

Free health insurance is not available to everyone, but if you take the time to look around you might be able to find coverage at little or no cost.

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How Much Does Health Insurance Cost a Young Adult

When you are shopping for health insurance for the first time, you will invariably ask, “how much does health insurance cost?”  This is a perfectly reasonable question.  When you buy a car, television, or any other major purchase you want to know how much it is going to cost.  And just like those things, there are a lot of variables that go into the cost of a health insurance plan.

Health Insurance Trend

One of the biggest factors that affect the cost of health insurance is medical trend.  Trend is the percent increase in health care costs.  Here is a good explanation of what causes medical trend.  A good estimation of trend is extremely important in determining how much health insurance costs.  If the trend estimation is off, premiums will be too high or too low.

Plan Design

The benefit design of an insurance plan plays a large part in how much it costs.  Just like with car insurance, a plan with a high deductible will have a lower premium than a plan with a low deductible.  The more financial risk you take upon yourself, the less you will pay in fixed monthly cost.  The same goes with a medical insurance plan.  The higher the deductible, copay, and out of pocket limits, the lower your premiums.

Age of the Individual

The age of an individual plays a big part in the cost of a health insurance plan, but not as much as it used to play.  Younger people need less health care than older people, so younger people pay less for claims.  The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), or as many people know it, Obamacare, puts a cap on how much more an older person can be charged for an insurance plan than a younger person.

Government Programs and Subsidies

Government programs and legislation provides methods to reduce the cost of health insurance for young adults.  The two big ones are Medicaid and the health insurance exchanges.

Medicaid

Medicaid is a program administered by the states that provides some low income earners with assistance in paying for health care.  Eligibility varies by state, so check with your state’s Medicaid office for details.

If someone makes just enough to not be eligible for Medicaid, but still needs to find a way to cover their children, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) can at least help pay for the cost of a young person’s children.

Health Insurance Exchanges

PPACA tried to simplify the answer to “how much does health insurance cost” by setting up health insurance exchanges.  Exchanges are online marketplaces where people can shop for health insurance plans side by side on an apples to apples basis.  Plan designs and premiums are plainly displayed.

However, for certain people, the premiums will not actually be what health insurance costs because of subsidies that are available to people that earn less than 4 times the poverty level.  If you fall into that category, you can receive assistance in paying for your health insurance premiums.

How much does health insurance cost is a question that people are always asking.  It is possible to find low cost health insurance.  With the exchanges and easy to use online tools, it can be easy to find out how much you owe for a medical insurance plan.

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How Can Young People Find Low Cost Health Insurance

When you are young and low on funds, finding low cost health insurance is a must.  When you go out searching for medical plans to enroll in, the monthly premiums can be overwhelming.  Fortunately, there are ways to keep the cost of your medical insurance needs as low as possible.  One thing, to keep in mind, though, is that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), or more commonly referred to as Obamacare, prevents the premiums for young people being as low as they otherwise could be.

Be Willing to Accept Larger Out of Pocket Expenses

Insurance is all about how much risk you are willing to take.  You pay a premium in exchange for the insurance company paying your medical claims.  If you want them to pay more claims when you are in need of medical care, then you will pay a higher premium.  Therefore, one way to get low cost health insurance is to enroll in plans with high deductibles, copays, and out of pocket maximums.  This leaves less financial exposure to the insurance company, and thereby reduces your monthly premium.

Join Your Employer’s Health Plan, if Available

If your employer offers a health insurance plan, it will almost always be less expensive that what you could find in the individual insurance market, especially for the employee portion (the dependent portion could get expensive).  Most employers subsidize the premium as a benefit to their employees.  And due to PPACA requirement, the plan will most likely be comprehensive enough to cover your health care needs.

Look at Your State’s Health Insurance Marketplace

PPACA has created health insurance exchanges, or marketplaces, where individuals can shop online and plainly see different medical plan options and their prices.  The idea of the marketplaces is to lower health insurance costs by creating a competition amongst insurance companies.  If this quest is successful, it can be a great place to find low cost health insurance.

If your state does not offer a marketplace, you can shop on the federal exchange.

Search for Yourself for Health Insurance on the Individual Market

If the exchanges don’t work for you, and your employer doesn’t offer a medical plan, you are still free to shop for insurance on your own.  The marketplaces are not the only places to find insurance.  Insurance companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, Cigna, UnitedHealthcare, etc. will still sell individual plans.  To make things easier, contact an insurance broker.

One Bad Thing About PPACA and Being Young

One of the ingredients that goes into an individual medical insurance premium is the age of the applicant.  Younger people have less claims, and thus their premiums are lower.  However, PPACA has limited how much higher the premiums can be for older people than younger people.  Therefore, the premiums for older people and younger people have been brought closer together.  This means that a premium for a younger person will be higher than before.  In essence, the law is asking younger people to help pay the cost of medical claims that older people incur.

Low Cost Health Insurance is Available through Subsidies

PPACA helps low income earners with premium subsidies through tax credits.  There are online tools to help you determine if you are available for this assistance.  The online marketplaces will also be able to determine if you are eligible.

Medical insurance plans will never be a cheap expense, especially with additional coverage being required by the legislature, but for young people, low cost health insurance is definitely available; it just might take some time and research.

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Best Ways for Young Adults to Buy Health Insurance

With the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (PPACA or Obamacare as many know it) requirement that all Americans purchase medical insurance or face a tax, there are many people that are looking to buy health insurance for the first time ever.  But where to start, and how to get a good plan that fits your needs and financial budget?  Fortunately, there are several places to look, and before long you will find a plan that is close to what you are looking for.

Employer Plans

If your employer allows you to buy health insurance, it can be very advantageous to be covered by that plan.  Employers usually subsidize a portion of the employee’s premium.  Because of this, you can usually purchase a plan cheaper through your employer than on your own in the individual market.

Of course, you have less control over the plans offered by your employer.  You must accept the insurance company and medical plan chosen by the company, and you are stuck with the premiums that the group is charged.

However, there is less hassle with just signing up for an employer plan.  If you are happy with the plan and the cost, go ahead and get covered through your job.

Health Insurance Exchanges

If you are not offered coverage through work, you can buy health insurance through the exchanges set up through PPACA.  The exchanges are online marketplaces that display plans available to you and the premiums for the plans.  Not all insurance companies participate in the exchanges, and there are a limited amount of plan designs available, but the marketplaces help you to easily compare plans.

In addition, if you buy health insurance through an exchange, you might be eligible for a tax credit to help offset the cost of the plan.  The exchange will calculate your subsidy when you buy the plan, but as a guide, you can receive assistance if you earn less than 400% of the poverty level, which is adjusted each year.

The Individual Marketplaces

The online marketplaces are not the only way you can buy health insurance outside of your employer.  If the exchanges do not offer you good options, you can always go look for a good medical plan on your own.  There are many insurance companies that offer all sorts of plan designs.  Shopping on your own requires some work and research, but if you have a few hours available, you can get the job done.

If you want to go this route to buy health insurance, but don’t have the time to commit to the project, you can hire a broker to do the work for you.  They will charge a small commission, but they are generally worth the money.

Medicaid

If affordable health insurance is difficult for you to come across, Medicaid may be the answer.  Medicaid is a way for low income earners to receive assistance in paying for health care services.  Medicaid is administered by the states, and eligibility varies by state, so if you think you may fall in this bucket, contact your state’s Medicaid office.

Only you know the goals that you have when you buy health insurance.  If you have an idea of how much you would like to spend on monthly premiums and how much risk you are willing to take in out of pocket expenses, you can find the right plan for you.

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