What you need to know before signing a health insurance policy

My health insurance re-enrollment period began today. So after a year of not having to worry about any details of my insurance, and now it is back to making decisions. I can either stay with my current policy, or adjust to my needs.

Insurance companies generally have open enrollment once a year (mine happens to be now) instead of letting you change your policy whenever you want. So after a year of forgetting everything about my policy, I get to relearn what I am paying for and see if it still fits my needs.

I think everyone should review their policy every year. Circumstances and finances change so it might be necessary to get a different plan. And this year, I wanted to switch.

These are the things I considered when making the switch, and what you should consider when you get health insurance quotes.

  • What would my monthly premium be? A premium is the fee you pay to receive coverage. I could pay this at one lump sum, or more commonly, pay a monthly installment. Wouldn’t I want the lowest monthly premium? Not necessarily, but I’ll get into that. Financially, I would prefer a smaller monthly fee. But the smaller the premium, the less coverage. It is a trade off between the type of coverage you want and how much you are willing to pay for it.
  • What would my deductible be? A deductible is how much you have to pay out of pocket before your health insurance policy will kick in. A general rule of thumb: the lower the deductible, the higher the premium, and vice versa. I am a pretty healthy person and I do not foresee any reason I would have any high medical issues, so I would opt for a higher deductible in favor of a lower premium. However, if you have high medical needs or a condition that requires frequent medical attention, it might be in your best interest to pay the higher premium for extra coverage.
  • What doctors can I see? Health insurance policies only cover your medical expenses if you visit a doctor in the network. Each policy will have a list of providers that are approved. If you visit a doctor outside of your network, you will not be covered, or you will be covered for much less. This is the main reason I wanted to switch policies. Under my previous policy, my favorite doctor was not in my network. It was worth it to me to make the switch so I could see my doctor. If you do not care which doctor you see, this will not be a big issue for you.
  • What are the other expenses? Each insurance policy has a specific co-payment that must be payed each time I visit a doctor or pick up a prescription. I want a low co-payment for each time I pick up my monthly medication at the pharmacy.

With each of these considerations, it was better for me to switch insurance policies once I receive the health insurance quotes.

What is the most important consideration when you select health insurance?