Health Insurance 101: Complete Guide to Affordable Coverage

There are more options than ever for finding affordable health insurance. One can go online and quickly find websites that can provide a health insurance quote.

But just looking for affordable health insurance can create gaps in your health insurance coverage. When looking for affordable health insurance coverage, you should not only look at the price of your health insurance quote, but also understand what type of health insurance coverage you are getting. Here are five steps to help you not only find affordable health insurance coverage, but also help you get the most out of your health insurance coverage.

1. What type of health insurance coverage do you need?

When you begin your search for affordable health coverage, many people often choose the first cheap health insurance quote and don't do enough research to find the best health insurance coverage for their needs.

The Health Insurance Marketplace opened many new programs and increased eligibility for many health insurance plans. The website itself is a valuable source of extensive insurance-related information, and you may want to visit the Health Insurance Marketplace first to educate yourself, explore your options, and help inform your future health decisions.

Your health insurance coverage options depend largely on your life circumstances. Here are common life circumstances and your different health insurance coverage options:

Work: employer (best option), separate health insurance coverage (when you go to an insurance company and buy health insurance not through an employer), health insurance marketplace, state-sponsored plan (Medicaid and CHIP) or self-insurance.

Self-Employed: Private (when you go to an insurance company and buy health insurance not through an employer), Marketplace, State-sponsored plan (Medicaid and CHIP), self-insurance.

Does not work: employer through Cobra, separate health insurance coverage (when you go to an insurance company and buy health insurance not through an employer), health insurance marketplace, state sponsored plan (Medicare and CHIP), auto insurance or Medicare if eligible.

College: Charge (through family health insurance provider), Marketplace, a state-sponsored plan (Medicare and CHIP), college-sponsored student health plans, or self-insurance.

2. Choosing a health insurer

Now that you know more about your health insurance needs, it's time to think about finding an insurer that offers the best health insurance coverage for your needs. It is imperative to know more about the financial strength of an insurer. Also, the best way to find the best health insurance coverage for you is to learn how to compare the key areas of health insurance that are important to you.

3. Make the call

Ready to start requesting a health insurance quote? Or, if your employer offers the insurance you're researching, are you ready to see if you want your employer's choice? When you're ready to call the health insurers of your choice, have a list of questions you need answered. Asking what is excluded in your health insurance plan and your choice of doctors are key areas to get answers when talking to health insurers.

4. Understand your health insurance coverage

Now that you have your health insurance plan, be prepared and take the time to understand your health insurance coverage. It is always best to review your health insurance plan with your employer's health insurance representative or the agent who helped you obtain the health insurance plan. Another good idea is to read it yourself. Most health insurance information packages seem overwhelming, but they generally are because they are written to help you understand the health insurance plan in its entirety. Here are some additional resources that you may find helpful:

  • Understanding Health Insurance Coverage
  • HIPAA Law and Regulations

5. Filing a health insurance claim

Most doctor's offices will open your health insurance application for you and only charge you the amount you have to pay out of pocket under your health insurance plan. Sometimes, however, you will need to complete your application for health insurance yourself. An example of that time would be if you choose to go to a doctor that is not in your health plan's network of doctors that you can go to. If you think you should complete your application for health insurance yourself, in most cases you will have to pay the full amount for the visit to the doctor or specialist first. You will then need to obtain a form from your insurer and fill out the appropriate information to file your claim. If your claim is approved, your health insurance company will reimburse or send you the amount of the claim that is covered by your health insurance policy.

If you need to challenge your insurer's decisions because a health insurance claim was denied, it is important to have a useful record of all the procedures performed. It will be helpful to keep a personal medical record.

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Source:ABC's of Coverage

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