There are so many health insurance companies and so many health insurance agents in the market that it makes life a little difficult when it comes to choosing a policy suited for you. The sound advice is: Don’t just jump and buy any policy your insurance agent recommends – most likely, he’s recommending you a particular policy because the insurance company’s paying him a fat commission for selling it. So, if you’re not sure about what you need, you’re going to walk into a policy you need the least.
What you must do is to sit down with your insurance agent and grill him with the following questions and conditions:
1. What type of insurance policy do I really need? Do I need the regular indemnity policy (fee for service) or should I go in for a managed care policy (HMO/PPO)?
2. Or, if neither the traditional nor the managed care health insurance plans suit my needs, should I look at Medigap, home care or a hospital care plan?
3. I can only afford to set aside $____ as my monthly medical budget. Give me a plan that will take care of any expense over and above my spending limit. Please include co-payments, coinsurance and deductibles when you make your calculations.
4. The maximum premium I can pay per month is $____. Please sell me a health insurance policy that is within my budget and yet takes into account the maximum amount I can spend on healthcare expenses per month.
5. I am comfortable with a particular doctor and would like to continue seeing him. Please ensure that the health plan you sell me has networked this doctor. (Pose this condition if you are very particular about seeing a specific doctor).
6. I am comfortable with a specific hospital and would like them to take care of me in case I need hospitalization. Please ensure that the health plan you sell me has networked this hospital. (Pose this condition if you prefer a particular hospital).
7. I would like to go with a plan that offers me free screening services such as diagnostic lab tests, precautionary health check-ups, etc. So, what are the free services offered in the plan that falls in my budget?
8. Your plan is not networked with my preferred doctor and/or hospital. But that’s okay provided you can convince me that I will receive quality healthcare under this health insurance policy. So, why don’t you go right ahead and convince me?
9. I have an existing medical condition. Will my new plan cover this condition?
10. Does the plan cover prescription drugs and are there any limits on such coverage?
11. Does the plan feature a lifeline limit? Lifeline limit is the maximum amount an insurance company will pay for medical costs incurred in the insured’s life.
12. Are you making me buy a plan that is being sold by a reputed health insurance company, one that has been rated well by an approved financial institution or rating agency?
The answers to these questions will clue you on into what you are getting into. Once you’re sure that your new policy will take care of your health and wallet at the same time, you can consider making an investment in it. If you are uncomfortable with any of the answers to the questions above, probe further to reach a satisfactory conclusion, but if you reach a dead end, then skip the plan you’ve been talking about and move on to discuss other alternative plans.
By Michael Williams