How to Choose the Right Insurance for Your Family

How to Choose the Right Insurance for Your FamilyIt’s important to think about what you really need in terms of cover, especially as your circumstances change. Open enrollment is an ideal time to review your coverage and make sure you have the right plan for your family.

Plans are categorized by how much cover they offer. For example, Health Maintenance Organizations tend to have a smaller network of providers while Preferred Provider Organizations often offer broader options.

1. Know your needs

If you’re in a situation where you need to find new health insurance, like transitioning out of your company’s benefits program, or are buying individual health insurance, there are many options available. To make the best decision for you, start by understanding your healthcare needs.

For example, if you’re planning on seeing a specialist, or have prescriptions that you need to take regularly, consider how much it may cost you to pay for those services in addition to the plan premium. You can also use a tool like a health insurance plan cost estimator to see how your different choices might play out.

Once you understand your needs, look at the various plans that are available and their summary of benefits. Compare them to your average healthcare needs and costs, keeping in mind any major upcoming life events (like a pregnancy or a planned procedure) that could impact the way those costs break down.

Then decide if a certain network type (HMO, POS, PPO, EPO) works with the doctors and healthcare specialists you plan on visiting. You can use a provider search tool to check whether they’re in-network. Finally, think about your annual budget and how the different plan options will fit in with that. This will help you choose the right plan that meets your family’s financial goals.

2. Shop around

Whether you’re aging out of your parent’s plan, in a policy that no longer meets your needs, or you just want to see what’s available on the market, it’s a good idea to shop around. This can help you find a plan that is better fit for your needs, save money, or even uncover new discounts you didn’t know you had. However, when you’re quoting policies, make sure that you are choosing the same coverage limits to compare apples-to-apples and aren’t missing any important coverages like ridesharing or roadside assistance. This will prevent you from going uninsured or paying for two policies at the same time.

3. Compare quotes

As you review your policy quotes, compare the limits, inclusions and exclusions to make sure you’re getting a full picture of each policy. In particular, consider the policy’s per-occurrence limit, which is the maximum amount your insurer will pay for a single claim. Small business owners should leave some wiggle room in this limit so that the policy can grow with the company, but not so much that it’s overly expensive or too restrictive.

How to Choose the Right Insurance for Your Family

When comparing quotes, be wary of sites that don’t show you any quotes at all, or that sell your personal information to insurance agents and marketing companies. These companies often say they help widen your search, but the trade-off can be a lot of unwanted calls, emails and texts.

To prevent this, check out the company’s terms and privacy policies before using their site. And if you don’t want to hear from them anymore, you should be able to opt out of further communication. You can usually find this link by Googling the company and “opt out.” Beware of websites that don’t clearly explain how they will use your personal information.

4. Compare plans

Whether you are aging out of your parent’s plan, changing jobs, or deciding to switch from an individual policy to an employer-sponsored one, it is important to take the time to compare plans. Many states have online tools that allow you to see the cost and coverage for each option in a high-level overview. You can also find out more about each plan by reading its summary of benefits and coverage, or “SBC.”

It’s also a good idea to look at the provider networks of each plan and make sure that your preferred doctors are included. If they are not, you may want to eliminate plans from your consideration. You should also consider whether a plan requires you to have a primary care physician for referrals, or if it allows you to choose your own PCP.

You should also ask family and friends for recommendations, especially if they have insurance through their employers or are familiar with the different options available in their area. They can give you insight into customer service, the ease of navigating a website or member portal, and even what they’ve learned about how each plan has worked for them in the past.

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