Open enrollment is upon us. By the end of the month, all Americans need to have a health insurance plan in place or face a fine. The truth is that choosing the right insurance policy is not an easy task. HMOs, PPOs, Bronze plans, Silver plans, deductibles, co-pays. This terminology can be quite confusing.
Many people get insurance through their employer, and therefore receive all the information they need to make an informed decision. However, many people have to choose from a marketplace like Obamacare, where they are thrown into a pool with more than a dozen options. Is the cheapest option the best? Do you really need to spend $1,500 a month on a Gold plan? There’s not one plan that’s considered one-size-fits-all. Instead, you want to choose a plan based on your and your family’s medical needs. Read on to discover the best plans out there.
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Which is best? Some people prefer the convenience of an HMO or POS, since the doctor coordinates care. However, if you do require a referral, you’ll have to see your primary doctor first, which can be a hassle. That’s why some people prefer PPOs and EPOs.
PPOs and EPOs allow you to choose your own doctor, which is important to many people. If you have a doctor who you’ve been seeing for a long time or for a certain disease, you’ll want to find a plan that has that doctor in the network. A PPO is good for those who live in rural areas and need a wider network, while an EPO works well for those who live in a large city and have a wealth of doctors to choose from.
Each plan is different when it comes to what is covered. Gold and Platinum plans tend to pay more costs, while a Bronze plan pays the least. The plan you choose may not cover your medication. You might also want to consider emergency services, specialized treatment (like chemotherapy), mental health services, pediatrics, lab services and hospitalization. Also, if you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant soon, will your plan cover maternity services. Think of your current health – as well as any anticipated changes – when you think about which health insurance option to choose.
When choosing a plan in a specific category, remember that not all companies are the same. You want a company that will help you in your time of need and answer questions you may have about your plan.
The top health insurance companies based on customer satisfaction are Kaiser Permanente, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Humana and UnitedHealthcare. Across the United States, Kaiser Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Humana, Cigna, Aetna and UnitedHealthcare rank as the best. So if you can, choose a plan from one of these companies.
According to the Obamacare website, the best overall healthcare insurance policy is a Silver Plan with a high deductible. That’s because this plan is eligible for many benefits, like cost sharing reductions subsidies, premium tax credits and a health savings account. While the thought of a high-deductible plan can be scary, the ability to use a health savings account outweighs the disadvantages, such as more out of pocket costs and a small network of physicians.
As you can see, there are many options to consider when choosing a health insurance plan. While you can’t predict your future health, you can use your current health as a gauge for what you’ll need in the coming year. Pick the plan that fits your budget and medical needs while offering you options that you don’t want to be without when an emergency strikes.