Purchasing health insurance can be frustrating without proper guidance. After all, there are several carriers offering coverage and several plans offered by those same carriers. How do you sort through all of your options, but still end up with medical insurance that suits your needs? By using a knowledgeable agent, you should find the process to be simple and painless.
Use an Agent to Purchase Health Insurance
You may balk at this idea right off the bat, but read on. The first thing you should know is that health insurance prices are controlled by law. Simply put, no agent (or carrier for that matter) can undercut any of their competitors. Everyone sells the exact same plans at the exact same prices. You only need to choose an agent or agency you are comfortable with.
Taking this a step further, you save no money when you buy direct from the carrier - none at all. However, if you use an independent agent, you will gain their expertise and knowledge about several carriers like Aetna, Anthem, Assurant, United Healthcare, and Humana for example. And when you have questions, you only need to contact your agent, not spend 30 minutes on hold with the carrier.
Copay or not to Copay
The office copay option is one that you should discuss with your chosen insurance representative almost immediately. By choosing whether or not you want a doctor's office copay associated with your coverage, you can immediately narrow down your choices. If you would rather pay for doctors visits out of your own pocket, you should consider a health savings account qualified plan. This way, you can use all the tax advantages associated with the savings account that is coupled with your high deductible health insurance coverage.
If you like the idea of only paying a $25 or $35 copay for an office visit, then you should consider more traditional coverage that offers this first dollar benefit. Those who often frequent the doctor or have young children may benefit the most from these types of plans. And all reputable carriers offer plans with and without a copay option.
Those who need maternity coverage as part of their individual or family health insurance will find suitable plans as well. It is important to note that not all carriers offer maternity coverage and most have a waiting period that must be satisfied before conception. The shortest wait is usually three months for a comprehensive maternity rider.
Put another way, you cannot purchase health insurance if you are already pregnant - you must plan ahead. When specialty riders like maternity are needed, then this is also a good time to speak with your trusted agent. You will find that pregnancy coverage can differ dramatically between companies. Your agent can help explain the vast differences between each carrier.
Purchasing health insurance is the easy part, but underwriting you or your family can take time. If you need health insurance in January, it is wise to begin the process in early December at the latest. Your agent can help you through this process while also speeding up the underwriting process. The agent's role as intermediary is to let you know what is still needed by the insurance carrier.
Oftentimes, insurance carriers will ask for your medical records and this can take some time. Your representative will let you know what forms you need and how to easily persuade your doctor's office to release any needed information. However, if you are in perfect health, then many carriers will provide coverage almost immediately.
In summary, if you need to purchase major medical insurance then you should first find an agent who is knowledgeable about the plans offered in your area. Tell them your needs, budget, and anything else that is relevant to your situation. Ask about copay options, maternity coverage, and underwriting to make sure that you understand the benefits and limitations associated with the chosen coverage. And finally, when you receive your policy, it's a good idea to read and then contact your agent with any questions.