This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of UnitedHealthcare. All opinions are my own.
This week, we finally ended up getting health insurance. I’m interested in changing doctors and I’m overdue to see all of them, and I’ve had some issues I’d like to get checked out. We were waiting for my husband to get hired – his next job promised him insurance – but between the fact that they kept postponing his hire date and the fact the the job was temporary, we decided not to wait. I wanted to make some visits next month and that meant I had to select a carrier by January 15th. So we started searching (again) this week.
We’re not exactly new to health insurance plans and terms, but there are a LOT of documents, information, terms, and, of course, exceptions (little asterisks denoting when something did or did not exactly apply). It’s very confusing, as well, even though we’d been looking at the information for a few months. Part of the reason is that when you’re getting heath insurance, there is so much to consider:
- What’s the premium- your monthly fee for health insurance coverage?
- What’s is the plan’s annual deductible, that is, how much you pay out of pocket before insurance kicks in?
- What are the co-pays (time of visit fees) for doctor visits and procedures?
- What is covered? What’s not covered?
- Does is have a flexible spending account (FSA) allowance – dollars you can put aside for health care to save on taxes?
To answer all these questions you should break down the process into more manageable steps.
1. Get informed about healthcare insurance terms.
You should learn the vocabulary and abbreviations (PPO, FSA)- especially if this is your first time buying insurance. It’s critical to know what you are talking about so you’re not overwhelmed.
2. Think about your healthcare needs.
If you’re on a regular script, like I am, or have a family member with a critical heart issue or other medical condition, that will require a different set of parameters than someone who doesn’t. Is there a baby in the house? Do you go to the gym? Are you a smoker? Do you need help or information on things like lactation? Different plans offer different sorts of prescription coverage, extras, hotlines, rates, etc., when it comes to providing for your needs. Think about what you’ve spent in the past and how much you’ll need for the upcoming year – for example, you’ll have much different needs if you are planning for your first baby.
3. Research your purchase.
Once you know the basics, and see what plans are available for you and your family in your location. Look at deductibles, copays, premiums and maximum out-of-pocket costs as well as what is covered when comparing health plans before making a commitment. For example, if you go to the doctor more often than annually, a higher office co-pay may not be the best solution.
4. Don’t miss the deadlines for getting health insurance.
You should enroll by 2/15/15 and that will allow you to get coverage starting March 1, 2015. And it is a commitment – you can only change providers during open enrollment periods unless major life changing event, like a marriage or divorce, occurs, or other events that the health care provider states.
Even knowing what we know, shopping with the Affordable Care Act on our own was confusing. Need a resource to help sort it all out? UnitedHealthcare has a planning resource website just for you, that makes it easy to learn more and find the best health plan for your and your family. But hurry! Open enrollment ends soon, and you don’t want to be left in the cold or you may get penalties. Check out the UnitedHealthcare website for everything you need to know, including finding insurance in your state right now.
Getting health insurance is not as painful as it looks and once you’re done, you can rest easy that your family will be covered for another year! Wishing you the best health (and health care) in 2015!