Want Cheaper Health Insurance? Make sure To Obtain The Right Number Of Health Insurance Quotes

Many of today’s financial savvy and not so savvy consumers are finding out just how important health insurance can really be to their overall health, both financially and physically. The fact is, with rising medical costs many people simply can’t afford to get sick or be seen by a doctor or medical health specialist unless they have obtained affordable health insurance to offset the expensive medications and routine follow-up doctor’s appointments. The best thing anyone searching for a good health insurance provider can do is to compare and contrast each insurance companies benefits by asking to receive a free health insurance quote. In order to get the best deal on your health insurance you want to make sure and get as many health insurance quotes as possible. This will allow you the opportunity to find adequate health coverage at a price you can easily afford.

With so many people needing health insurance (everyone truly does need some form of health insurance coverage) you definitely want to shop around and compare the many different health insurance quotes you will receive. Shopping around between the many different health insurance companies and providers is important because every company offers different benefits with their health insurance policies. You want to primarily use the health insurance quote as your initial baseline to decide on which companies to investigate further.

Medical costs aren’t the only thing that has gone up, health insurance rates and premiums have also started becoming more expensive making the advice of obtaining health insurance quotes from many different companies even more valuable and important. Keep in mind that your current state of health plays s a large role in determining the actual rate of your health insurance quotes. If you regularly consume unhealthy foods, drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes of lead a sedentary life without any form of exercise involved then chances are quite good that your health insurance quote will higher then a healthier individuals rate quote, no matter which health insurance company or provider you choose to work with.

Typically, a health insurance quote will explain or show exactly what the health insurance company (sometimes referred to as the insurer) will cover in terms of medical costs associated with an insured consumer who becomes sick, ill or suffers an accident. There are many different forms of health insurance coverage to choose from with many of the more popular forms called HMOs (Health Maintenance Organizations) and PPOs (Preferred Provider Organizations). There are still several other forms of medical insurance coverage but the point of obtaining a health insurance quote is valid no matter what type of health insurance coverage or provider you choose to work with.

In order to really find the best health insurance coverage and provider you need to take the necessary time to obtain a health insurance quote from several different insurance companies. Doing so will allow you to find adequate health coverage at a price that won’t send you to the hospital in the first place.

Student Health Insurance – Tips to Help You Choose the Right Policy

It is summer 2006. Young and not so young people are graduating from school and there are millions of people who are starting to think about student health insurance. Here are some tips for parents and students who are looking for health insurance for a college student, health insurance for a graduating college student or health insurance for an older graduate student. There are a lot of choices. This article is designed to give you an overview of the choices available to students.

Health Insurance For College Students You should explore all of the medical plan options available to you. Your choices may include:

  1. Getting health insurance through the student’s employer.
  2. Getting medical insurance through your local Blue Cross Blue Shield or other private health insurance plan.
  3. Getting “college student health insurance” through a plan offered by their college or university.
  4. Getting health insurance as a dependent on the policy of a parent or spouse.

When looking for the non-group health insurance plans that are available in your area, you may want to contact your state’s insurance department. You can contact them and find out which companies market individual health insurance in your area. Healthcare choices for the out-of-state student If you live on campus, look into the plans offered in each area. If your parents live in Florida, but you go to school in Texas, you should see what health insurance plans are available to you in both states. A student who has a permanent address of Connecticut and attends Yale in New Haven should only purchase a Connecticut-approved plan. If the same student transfers to UCLA, he or she can also explore plans offered in California. Some plans may even charge differently based on your zip code, so even if your two addresses are in the same state, you may still save money by looking at rates for both areas. Health Insurance For A Graduating College Student You should explore all of the medical plan options available to you. Your choices may include:

  1. Getting health insurance through the former student’s employer.
  2. Getting medical insurance through your local Blue Cross Blue Shield or other private health insurance plan.
  3. Purchasing short-term health insurance to cover you until your employer-sponsored plan becomes effective.
  4. Getting health insurance as a dependent on the policy of a parent or spouse.

Medical Insurance Plans to Watch Out For:

  • Discount plans. These are not health insurance plans! These plans can save you money on health care, but only offer discounted services and not true insurance benefits. If you had a major accident or sickness, getting 25% off of a healthcare bill of $50,000 may not give you the benefits you hoped for.
  • Accident only plans. Students get the flu, mono and even cancer. Being covered with an accident only plan can offer substandard coverage when compare to a comprehensive health insurance plan. (By the way, an unplanned pregnancy is not considered an accident either J. :-) )
  • Hospital Only or Basic Plans. These plans tend to offer good coverage in the hospital but little coverage outside of the hospital. These plans can save you from a hospital bill that might otherwise bankrupt you. However, today hospital stays are getting shorter and more and more healthcare is being done in doctors offices. If keeping your premiums low is important, consider a plan that covers you both in the hospital and in the doctors office that has a high deductible.
  • School Sponsored Clinics And Urgent Care Centers. They cover you well for the little things, but not so well for the big things. There may be no coverage for surgery or hospitalization. In contrast to hospital only plans, these plans my not cover you for a hospital stay or for surgeries.

Finding the right student health insurance is important. College students and graduating college students have a lot of choices. Hopefully reading this article will make you aware of the options that you have. This article can be copied and reprinted but only in its entirety. The article was originally published on http://www.1800insurancect.com/articles/student-health-insurance-article.htm. The article starts with the heading “Student Health Insurance – Tips to Help You Choose the Right Policy” and ends with this sentence.

Health Insurance Broker: Roles and Responsibility

A health insurance broker is no different from a stock broker or any other broker; he or she just specializes in the health sector. A health insurance broker helps you find the most suitable insurance company by matching your requirements with the provisions offered by the various policies offered by health insurance companies.

If you do not currently have an insurance policy or you do not belong to any group insurance, you may well benefit from seeking the help of a health insurance broker. Self-employed or people with medical conditions typically seek the help of a health insurance broker. A health insurance broker also works for the benefit of the coordinators of a group insurance. The health insurance broker is given a list of benefits sought by an individual or a group coordinator. What a broker does is search for individuals or coordinators which best match those needs. Then he presents his recommendations and if both parties agree, the broker formulates a contract between the two parties.

Does a health insurance broker work for any specific company?

Usually a health insurance broker does not work for any specific company. A broker’s job is to gather information about the policies offered by the various companies in the vicinity, the rates they charge, how they treat policy holders who submit medical claims very often and any other information. However, many a times it does happen that a health insurance broker is given a financial incentive for promoting a company among the health insurance seekers.

Will it be costly to get a policy through a heath insurance broker?

The answer to this question cannot be generalized. Many times a health insurance broker makes an individual a member of a group plan offered by the state or trade union or organization. In this case, the individual will find rates lower and coverage better than if he had opted to go alone and seek the policy from the issuer company. Health insurance brokers usually get a commission, which is given only if both parties reach an agreement. This implies that one party or the other, and sometimes both, are responsible for the payment of broker’s fee or share.

The rates, laws and rules related to health insurance keep on changing very frequently, hence health insurance brokers are few in number. Moreover, most of the states require that health insurance brokers be licensed before they can work. Also, these requirements are not uniform throughout the nation and differ from state to state.

You should seek the help of a health insurance broker if you are mired in the health insurance bureaucracy. In such a situation a health insurance broker might turn out to a great source of help for you.

Choose The Wrong Health Insurance Coverage…And It Can Cost You Thousands…

Don’t Be Caught Unaware

Do YOU know how to get the health insurance policy you need to cover your healthcare needs without excess costs?

Making poor choices as you choose your Health insurance policy can be disastrous, both to your pocketbook and to your health. If you’re one of thousands of Michigan residents who need health insurance or need to maintain continuous coverage, make sure you get the information you need to avoid trouble.

Health care quality varies. To ensure you receive quality health care all areas involved must be evaluated carefully. These areas include doctors, hospitals, medical groups, and health insurance plans. The type of health insurance plan you have can and does affect the quality of service you receive.

For example, your physician may suggest certain tests to diagnose your condition. Your insurance may not cover the tests, or may determine they don’t think it’s necessary. Medical tests can be quite expensive…make sure you have the coverage you need. Doing your research before you make a final choice on which health insurance policy you get is the best way to avoid problems later.

Pitfalls to Avoid as You Select Your Health insurance

Pitfall #1. Not getting enough information. Many people in search of health insurance are uninformed. They’re not sure exactly what type of coverage they need…they simply know they need Health insurance. Not all health insurance policies are the same.

The amount of coverage, co-pay amounts, levels of coverage, and how claims are processed are items that can vary greatly. These items can be a great expense if you choose the wrong plan for your needs. The costs can be more than just money. Time and the quality of your health care can also suffer.

This can be especially true if you have chronic health problems and require regular visits to specialists. Don’t assume that just because your health insurance agent shows you a policy that it’s the one you need.

Today’s health care services cover more areas than ever before. Some health insurance policies cover most, some don’t. Take the time to match your needs to the policy that provides coverage in the areas that are important to you.

All Health insurance policies have sections defining what’s covered in each area of health care. You’ll want to make sure you review areas such as health screenings, physical exams, specialists’ care, emergency care, prescription coverage, dental, vision care, family planning, chiropractic, hospitalization, and alternative care coverage.

Pitfall #2. No Comparison. Just as you shop for the best price and quality for items like cars, clothing, groceries, and other monthly expenses, you should do the same when choosing your Health insurance policy. Common items to compare are coverage levels and co-pays for doctor visits, prescription medicine, hospital stays, and emergency health situations. Other items to consider will depend upon your current health status and your age.

For example, if pregnancy or family planning is in your future, you’ll want to compare policies to make sure you get the best coverage in those areas for your monthly premium. If you’re older and nearing retirement, these items won’t be important. Do your best to avoid coverage you’ll never use.

Pitfall #3. Monthly Budget versus Coverage. Many people sacrifice proper insurance coverage due to costs. It’s true that most of us must budget our monthly expenses. Health insurance can be a big portion of that budget. The idea that some coverage is better than nothing is true, but by shopping and talking openly with your Health insurance agent, you’ll be able to find the best policy for your budget and your health care needs.

Before you begin your search, it’s a good idea to list any questions or concerns you have regarding health insurance coverage. Whether you shop online or off, make sure you’re getting information and quotes from a licensed insurance agent. . Keep asking questions until you feel confident about making a good decision.

Get information from three or four health insurance providers. Compare costs, benefits provided, and ease of filing claims.

Pitfall #4. Not being prepared. Once you’ve narrowed your policy options down to one or two policies, it is very important to understand how your policy coverage is implemented. You should make sure you know exactly what is required of you in certain medical situations. Situations like: Do I need a referral to see medical specialists? Must I get approval for specific lab tests before the tests are done? What steps should I take when emergency care is required?

This one pitfall can heavily affect your out of pocket health care costs. Make sure you understand exactly what you need to do in these situations before they occur.

By taking the time to avoid these pitfalls you can feel confident in your choice of Health insurance selection. You can also relax and know that you’ll be prepared when you need to use your health insurance. Protect the health and well being of you and your loved ones….take the time now…before it’s too late.

Copyright 2006 Lisa Ip

Small Business Health Insurance – The Best Policy Is A Great Agent

I have been a health insurance broker for over a decade and every day I read more and more “horror” stories that are posted on the Internet regarding health insurance companies not paying claims, refusing to cover specific illnesses and physicians not getting reimbursed for medical services. Unfortunately, insurance companies are driven by profits, not people (albeit they need people to make profits). If the insurance company can find a legal reason not to pay a claim, chances are they will find it, and you the consumer will suffer. However, what most people fail to realize is that there are very few “loopholes” in an insurance policy that give the insurance company an unfair advantage over the consumer. In fact, insurance companies go to great lengths to detail the limitations of their coverage by giving the policy holders 10-days (a 10-day free look period) to review their policy. Unfortunately, most people put their insurance cards in their wallet and place their policy in a drawer or filing cabinet during their 10-day free look and it usually isn’t until they receive a “denial” letter from the insurance company that they take their policy out to really read through it.

The majority of people, who buy their own health insurance, rely heavily on the insurance agent selling the policy to explain the plan’s coverage and benefits. This being the case, many individuals who purchase their own health insurance plan can tell you very little about their plan, other than, what they pay in premiums and how much they have to pay to satisfy their deductible.

For many consumers, purchasing a health insurance policy on their own can be an enormous undertaking. Purchasing a health insurance policy is not like buying a car, in that, the buyer knows that the engine and transmission are standard, and that power windows are optional. A health insurance plan is much more ambiguous, and it is often very difficult for the consumer to determine what type of coverage is standard and what other benefits are optional. In my opinion, this is the primary reason that most policy holders don’t realize that they do not have coverage for a specific medical treatment until they receive a large bill from the hospital stating that “benefits were denied.”

Sure, we all complain about insurance companies, but we do know that they serve a “necessary evil.” And, even though purchasing health insurance may be a frustrating, daunting and time consuming task, there are certain things that you can do as a consumer to ensure that you are purchasing the type of health insurance coverage you really need at a fair price.

Dealing with small business owners and the self-employed market, I have come to the realization that it is extremely difficult for people to distinguish between the type of health insurance coverage that they “want” and the benefits they really “need.” Recently, I have read various comments on different Blogs advocating health plans that offer 100% coverage (no deductible and no-coinsurance) and, although I agree that those types of plans have a great “curb appeal,” I can tell you from personal experience that these plans are not for everyone. Do 100% health plans offer the policy holder greater peace of mind? Probably. But is a 100% health insurance plan something that most consumers really need? Probably not! In my professional opinion, when you purchase a health insurance plan, you must achieve a balance between four important variables; wants, needs, risk and price. Just like you would do if you were purchasing options for a new car, you have to weigh all these variables before you spend your money. If you are healthy, take no medications and rarely go to the doctor, do you really need a 100% plan with a $5 co-payment for prescription drugs if it costs you $300 dollars more a month?

Is it worth $200 more a month to have a $250 deductible and a $20 brand name/$10 generic Rx co-pay versus an 80/20 plan with a $2,500 deductible that also offers a $20 brand name/$10generic co-pay after you pay a once a year $100 Rx deductible? Wouldn’t the 80/20 plan still offer you adequate coverage? Don’t you think it would be better to put that extra $200 ($2,400 per year) in your bank account, just in case you may have to pay your $2,500 deductible or buy a $12 Amoxicillin prescription? Isn’t it wiser to keep your hard-earned money rather than pay higher premiums to an insurance company?

Yes, there are many ways you can keep more of the money that you would normally give to an insurance company in the form of higher monthly premiums. For example, the federal government encourages consumers to purchase H.S.A. (Health Savings Account) qualified H.D.H.P.’s (High Deductible Health Plans) so they have more control over how their health care dollars are spent. Consumers who purchase an HSA Qualified H.D.H.P. can put extra money aside each year in an interest bearing account so they can use that money to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses. Even procedures that are not normally covered by insurance companies, like Lasik eye surgery, orthodontics, and alternative medicines become 100% tax deductible. If there are no claims that year the money that was deposited into the tax deferred H.S.A can be rolled over to the next year earning an even higher rate of interest. If there are no significant claims for several years (as is often the case) the insured ends up building a sizeable account that enjoys similar tax benefits as a traditional I.R.A. Most H.S.A. administrators now offer thousands of no load mutual funds to transfer your H.S.A. funds into so you can potentially earn an even higher rate of interest.

In my experience, I believe that individuals who purchase their health plan based on wants rather than needs feel the most defrauded or “ripped-off” by their insurance company and/or insurance agent. In fact, I hear almost identical comments from almost every business owner that I speak to. Comments, such as, “I have to run my business, I don’t have time to be sick! “I think I have gone to the doctor 2 times in the last 5 years” and “My insurance company keeps raising my rates and I don’t even use my insurance!” As a business owner myself, I can understand their frustration. So, is there a simple formula that everyone can follow to make health insurance buying easier? Yes! Become an INFORMED consumer.

Every time I contact a prospective client or call one of my client referrals, I ask a handful of specific questions that directly relate to the policy that particular individual currently has in their filing cabinet or dresser drawer. You know the policy that they bought to protect them from having to file bankruptcy due to medical debt. That policy they purchased to cover that $500,000 life-saving organ transplant or those 40 chemotherapy treatments that they may have to undergo if they are diagnosed with cancer.

So what do you think happens almost 100% of the time when I ask these individuals “BASIC” questions about their health insurance policy? They do not know the answers! The following is a list of 10 questions that I frequently ask a prospective health insurance client. Let’s see how many YOU can answer without looking at your policy.

1. What Insurance Company are you insured with and what is the name of your health insurance plan? (e.g. Blue Cross Blue Shield-”Basic Blue”)

2. What is your calendar year deductible and would you have to pay a separate deductible for each family member if everyone in your family became ill at the same time? (e.g. The majority of health plans have a per person yearly deductible, for example, $250, $500, $1,000, or $2,500. However, some plans will only require you to pay a 2 person maximum deductible each year, even if everyone in your family needed extensive medical care.)

3. What is your coinsurance percentage and what dollar amount (stop loss) it is based on? (e.g. A good plan with 80/20 coverage means you pay 20% of some dollar amount. This dollar amount is also known as a stop loss and can vary based on the type of policy you purchase. Stop losses can be as little as $5,000 or $10,000 or as much as $20,000 or there are some policies on the market that have NO stop loss dollar amount.)

4. What is your maximum out of pocket expense per year? (e.g. All deductibles plus all coinsurance percentages plus all applicable access fees or other fees)

5. What is the Lifetime maximum benefit the insurance company will pay if you become seriously ill and does your plan have any “per illness” maximums or caps? (e.g. Some plans may have a $5 million lifetime maximum, but may have a maximum benefit cap of $100,000 per illness. This means that you would have to develop many separate and unrelated life-threatening illnesses costing $100,000 or less to qualify for $5 million of lifetime coverage.)

6. Is your plan a schedule plan, in that it only pays a certain amount for a specific list of procedures? (e.g., Mega Life & Health & Midwest National Life, endorsed by the National Association of the Self-Employed, N.A.S.E. is known for endorsing schedule plans) 7. Does your plan have doctor co-pays and are you limited to a certain number of doctor co-pay visits per year? (e.g. Many plans have a limit of how many times you go to the doctor per year for a co-pay and, quite often the limit is 2-4 visits.)

8. Does your plan offer prescription drug coverage and if it does, do you pay a co-pay for your prescriptions or do you have to meet a separate drug deductible before you receive any benefits and/or do you just have a discount prescription card only? (e.g. Some plans offer you prescription benefits right away, other plans require that you pay a separate drug deductible before you can receive prescription medication for a co-pay. Today, many plans offer no co-pay options and only provide you with a discount prescription card that gives you a 10-20% discount on all prescription medications).

9. Does your plan have any reduction in benefits for organ transplants and if so, what is the maximum your plan will pay if you need an organ transplant? (e.g. Some plans only pay a $100,000 maximum benefit for organ transplants for a procedure that actually costs $350-$500K and this $100,000 maximum may also include reimbursement for expensive anti-rejection medications that must be taken after a transplant. If this is the case, you will often have to pay for all anti-rejection medications out of pocket).

10. Do you have to pay a separate deductible or “access fee” for each hospital admission or for each emergency room visit? (e.g. Some plans, like the Assurant Health’s “CoreMed” plan have a separate $750 hospital admission fee that you pay for the first 3 days you are in the hospital. This fee is in addition to your plan deductible. Also, many plans have benefit “caps” or “access fees” for out-patient services, such as, physical therapy, speech therapy, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, etc. Benefit “caps” could be as little as $500 for each out-patient treatment, leaving you a bill for the remaining balance. Access fees are additional fees that you pay per treatment. For example, for each outpatient chemotherapy treatment, you may be required to pay a $250 “access fee” per treatment. So for 40 chemotherapy treatments, you would have to pay 40 x $250 = $10,000. Again, these fees would be charged in addition to your plan deductible).

Now that you’ve read through the list of questions that I ask a prospective health insurance client, ask yourself how many questions you were able to answer. If you couldn’t answer all ten questions don’t be discouraged. That doesn’t mean that you are not a smart consumer. It may just mean that you dealt with a “bad” insurance agent. So how could you tell if you dealt with a “bad” insurance agent? Because a “great” insurance agent would have taken the time to help you really understand your insurance benefits. A “great” agent spends time asking YOU questions so s/he can understand your insurance needs. A “great” agent recommends health plans based on all four variables; wants, needs, risk and price. A “great” agent gives you enough information to weigh all of your options so you can make an informed purchasing decision. And lastly, a “great” agent looks out for YOUR best interest and NOT the best interest of the insurance company.

So how do you know if you have a “great” agent? Easy, if you were able to answer all 10 questions without looking at your health insurance policy, you have a “great” agent. If you were able to answer the majority of questions, you may have a “good” agent. However, if you were only able to answer a few questions, chances are you have a “bad” agent. Insurance agents are no different than any other professional. There are some insurance agents that really care about the clients they work with, and there are other agents that avoid answering questions and duck client phone calls when a message is left about unpaid claims or skyrocketing health insurance rates.

Remember, your health insurance purchase is just as important as purchasing a house or a car, if not more important. So don’t be afraid to ask your insurance agent a lot of questions to make sure that you understand what your health plan does and does not cover. If you don’t feel comfortable with the type of coverage that your agent suggests or if you think the price is too high, ask your agent if s/he can select a comparable plan so you can make a side by side comparison before you purchase. And, most importantly, read all of the “fine print” in your health plan brochure and when you receive your policy, take the time to read through your policy during your 10-day free look period.

If you can’t understand something, or aren’t quite sure what the asterisk (*) next to the benefit description really means in terms of your coverage, call your agent or contact the insurance company to ask for further clarification.

Furthermore, take the time to perform your own due diligence. For example, if you research MEGA Life and Health or the Midwest National Life insurance company, endorsed by the National Association for the Self Employed (NASE), you will find that there have been 14 class action lawsuits brought against these companies since 1995. So ask yourself, “Is this a company that I would trust to pay my health insurance claims?

Additionally, find out if your agent is a “captive” agent or an insurance “broker.” “Captive” agents can only offer ONE insurance company’s products.” Independent” agents or insurance “brokers” can offer you a variety of different insurance plans from many different insurance companies. A “captive” agent may recommend a health plan that doesn’t exactly meet your needs because that is the only plan s/he can sell. An “independent” agent or insurance “broker” can usually offer you a variety of different insurance products from many quality carriers and can often customize a plan to meet your specific insurance needs and budget.

Over the years, I have developed strong, trusting relationships with my clients because of my insurance expertise and the level of personal service that I provide. This is one of the primary reasons that I do not recommend buying health insurance on the Internet. In my opinion, there are too many variables that Internet insurance buyers do not often take into consideration. I am a firm believer that a health insurance purchase requires the level of expertise and personal attention that only an insurance professional can provide. And, since it does not cost a penny more to purchase your health insurance through an agent or broker, my advice would be to use eBay and Amazon for your less important purchases and to use a knowledgeable, ethical and reputable independent agent or broker for one of the most important purchases you will ever make….your health insurance policy.

Lastly, if you have any concerns about an insurance company, contact your state’s Department of Insurance BEFORE you buy your policy. Your state’s Department of Insurance can tell you if the insurance company is registered in your state and can also tell you if there have been any complaints against that company that have been filed by policy holders. If you suspect that your agent is trying to sell you a fraudulent insurance policy, (e.g. you have to become a member of a union to qualify for coverage) or isn’t being honest with you, your state’s Department of Insurance can also check to see if your agent is licensed and whether or not there has ever been any disciplinary action previously taken against that agent.

In closing, I hope I have given you enough information so you can become an INFORMED insurance consumer. However, I remain convinced that the following words of wisdom still go along way: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!” and “If you only buy on price, you get what you pay for!”

©2007 Small Business Insurance Services, Inc. http://www.smallbusinessinsuranceservices.com