Health Insurance 101

Your Complete Guide to Affordable Coverage

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There are more choices than ever to find affordable health insurance. One can get their local phone book and search for insurance companies that provide health insurance coverage or one could get online and quickly find websites that can provide a health insurance quote.

But only searching for affordable health insurance can lead to gaps in your health insurance coverage. When looking for affordable health insurance coverage, you need to not just look at the price tag of your health insurance quote but also understand what type of health insurance coverage you are getting. Below are five steps to help you not only find affordable health insurance coverage but these five steps will also help you get the most out of your health insurance coverage.

1. What Kind of Health Insurance Coverage Do You Need?

When you start your search for affordable health care coverage, a lot of people often go with the first cheap health insurance quote and don't do enough research to find the best health insurance coverage for their needs.

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

  • Working: Employer (Best Choice), Independent Health Insurance Coverage (when you go to an insurance company and buy health insurance not through an employer), State Sponsored Plan (low income) or Self-Insure
  • Self Employed: Independent (when you go to an insurance company and buy health insurance not through an employer), State Sponsored Plan (low income) or Self-Insure
  • Not Working: Employer through Cobra, Independent Health Insurance Coverage (when you go to an insurance company and buy health insurance not through an employer), a State Sponsored Plan, or Self-Insure
  • College: Cobra (through Family's Health Insurance Provider), State Sponsored Plan, or Self-Insure

2. Choosing a Health Insurance Company

Now that you know more about your health insurance needs, it is time to think about finding an insurance company that provides the best health insurance coverage for your needs. Knowing more about the financial strength of an insurance company is a must. Also, the best way to find the best health insurance coverage for you is to learn how to compare key areas in health care insurance that are important to you. Here are some resources that can help:
10 Key Considerations When Comparing Health Care Plans
Insurance Company Report Cards: What Grade Did Your Company Bring Home?

3. Making the Call

Are you ready to start calling for a health insurance quote? Or, if the insurance you are researching is offered by your employer, are you ready to see if you want your employer's choice? When you are ready to make the call to your chosen health insurance providers, have ready a list of questions you need answers to. Asking what is excluded ​in their health insurance plan and their choice of health care doctors are key areas to get answers to when talking to health insurance companies.

4. Understanding Your Health Insurance Coverage

Now that you have your health insurance plan, be prepared and take the time to understand your health insurance coverages. It is always best to review your health insurance plan with your employer health insurance representative or the agent who helped you obtain the health insurance plan. Another good idea is to just read it yourself. Most health insurance information packets seem overwhelming but usually are that way because they are written to help one understand the health insurance plan thoroughly. Here are some additional resources that can be helpful:
What Does that Mean? Understanding Health Insurance Terms
HIPAA Law and Regulations
The Top Ten Insurance Myths You Need to Know!

5. Filing a Health Insurance Claim

Most doctor's offices will file your health insurance claim for you and just charge you the amount you are supposed to pay out of pocket according to your health insurance plan. Sometimes, though, you will need to file your health insurance claim yourself. An example of such a time would be if you chose to go to a doctor that is not in your health insurance plan's network of doctors you can use. If you find you do have to file your health insurance claim yourself, in most cases you will need to pay the full amount of the visit first to the doctor or specialist. Then, you will need to obtain a form from your insurance company and fill out the appropriate information to file your claim. If your claim is approved, your health insurance company will reimburse you, or send you the amount of the claim that is covered under your health insurance policy.

If you need to challenge your insurance company’s decisions because a health insurance claim was denied, it is important to have a handy record of all procedures performed. Keeping a personal medical log will be helpful.