Health Insurance Myths
Insurance often feels like a waste of money or a "hedge your bets" gamble that something bad will happen. While there may be a thousand ways to spend your hard earned cash, going without health insurance can be the costliest gamble you'll ever make. The law forces us to purchase car insurance, but health insurance is voluntary. Health insurance, however, protects our most valuable asset, our health. The question is, what is the best way to protect your most valuable asset?
Myth #1: It is always better to have employer-sponsored health insurance.
Traditionally, the majority of Americans receive health insurance through their employer. Including health benefits with a compensation package has always made sense because large groups can negotiate better prices than individuals, right? Well, maybe not. The cost of employer-sponsored coverage has been steadily increasing and employers are faced with fewer options. This is great for individuals with chronic medical conditions, but it means higher out-of-pocket costs for all employees, even the healthy ones who never go to the doctor. Due to double-digit increases in health care premiums , employers are facing a tough choice; either pass the costs onto employees or reduce benefit levels. Many employees have noticed copays and prescription drug costs increasing while simultaneously contributing more and more to cover themselves and their families. It can definitely feel like a waste of money if you hardly use your insurance, so why not look for a plan that meets your specific needs rather than overpaying for a group policy that includes coverage you wont use?
Myth #2: Health insurance is too expensive to buy on your own.
By identifying your medical needs, you can determine the level of coverage you should have need. Once you've determined how your health care money should be spent, you can comparison shop for plans from a variety of carriers. Employer sponsored insurance can be a pretty good deal for the employee, but the dependents tend to pay much more for that coverage. For most people, it has become a habit to periodically check on car insurance rates. Health insurance should be viewed the same way. You have to have it, but why spend more than you need to? By identifying your medical needs, you can decide if a more affordable plan is right for you. It makes sense to save the money you would have spent on high premiums to cover necessary medical expenses until your deductible is reached. If you never have medical expenses, that savings is just money in the bank! As health insurance costs continue to rise, you can save money by spending a few minutes researching insurance rates. You could be in for a surprise if you're overpaying for health insurance you don't use.
Myth #3: Health insurance is a waste of money for the young and healthy.
It is true that different people need different levels of insurance. It does not make sense to pay for prescription drug coverage or maternity benefits if you know you don't need it. A surprising number of people are paying for insurance benefits they don't need. Health insurance should be viewed like car insurance. Would you pay a high premium to insure a car that isn't worth very much money? Of course not! So why do people pay for "Cadillac" health insurance when all they really need is financial protection in case they get seriously injured? There are options. Younger and healthier people may benefit more from a low cost health plan with a high deductible. Emergency room services are extremely expensive and it makes sense to protect yourself from the financial havoc that can result from injuries beyond your control. For many people, the only reason to have health insurance is financial protection. Clearly, if you're in a car accident or injured while snowboarding or white water rafting or hiking, you are going to want medical attention. Don't let unexpected injuries from your favorite activities cost you your financial security; get the insurance you need to protect your future.
Thanks to the Internet, buying a health insurance plan for yourself or your family is simpler than ever before. You'll find lots of valuable information online and hundreds of sites that want to sell you a health insurance plan. But buying health insurance isn't like ordering a book. Purchasing health insurance is a serious endeavor and you'll have to provide some personal information to complete your application. So who can you trust? How can you shop smart? Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Shop with a licensed agent
When shopping for health insurance online, selection and assistance are important. Many health insurance companies sell their plans directly to consumers, as well as through licensed agents. But by limiting your scope to a single health insurance company you may be limiting your options. A licensed health insurance agent can sell plans from a variety of insurance companies, provide you with personal advice and assistance, and can work with the insurance company on your behalf to help expedite a decision on your application. An agent can be an individual or a company with multiple agents working to find the best plan to meet your needs. Licensed health insurance agents must follow stringent guidelines mandated by the insurance companies they represent and your state Department of Insurance. And buying through an agent won't cost you any more than going directly to the insurance company. Make sure any online health insurance agent you work with provides easy access to their state license number.
Make sure they have quality phone support
You may never need to call your licensed online agent, but you want to make sure that they're available when you need them. A reputable agent should never hide their phone number in the fine print. It may not be on the homepage, but you should be able to find it within one or two clicks. You'll want to be sure you're working with an insurance agent who's available for you not only when you're shopping, but even down the road after you've made your purchase. Courteous, helpful telephone assistance and easy accessibility, are a great indicator that you've found a quality health insurance partner.
Look for seals of approval or quality ratings
Quality insurance companies and reliable licensed agents will typically promote the approvals or high ratings they've received from consumer advocacy groups such as the Better Business Bureau, TRUSTe or A.M. Best. When choosing an online health insurance agent, look for a Better Business Bureau Online ("BBBO") logo. The BBBO provides reliability reports for online business which include specific company information and reports of any consumer complaints. Your online agent should also have the approval of an Internet privacy protection organization like TRUSTe. Some of the health insurance companies you'll see online are big names but others you might not have heard of before. Look for A.M. Best ratings for health insurance companies you have questions about. A high A.M Best is the benchmark for quality in the insurance industry.
Shopping for health insurance online might seem a little intimidating at first, but it's the best and easiest way for you to get the information, assistance and selection you need, and to make valuable connections with licensed agents. Follow these tips while you shop for health insurance online and you'll be doing what you can to protect your personal information and make the most of your time and money.
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