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How to Choose a Health Insurance Plan

December 29th, 2009 at 09:34 am

I am currently trying to find my way through the maze of health insurance plans on offer here in Florida. There are quite a few things that vary between each plan and the deductibles here are much higher than I am used to having, but then so are the monthly payments. I used to pay 200 a month and have a deductible of 150 per year before the insurance would cover all remaining costs (socialist health care system). So I thought I could ask from some help from some people in the know about what information is important to look at when you are investigating which health care plan to take. So I am asking the savings advice readers for some help on what things you would recommend I look at when researching our health care plan?

My husband is 33 and I am 27. He smokes but is trying to quit, we are both a little overweight and I have some minor allergies to certain fabric softners. That is all, so I believe we are resonably healthy. I would like to aim for monthly payments of around 200 a month for both of us with a deductible as low as possible (looks to be around 2500). However I do want to make sure we are covered for any emergencies as as though we are reasonably healthy right now, you never know what will happen ( and knock on wood that nothing does happen). I understand this is very general, but as I said earlier, I am just starting my research and I am a bit lost.

Also I need to investigate if dental and vision are worth it.

4 Responses to “How to Choose a Health Insurance Plan”

  1. jIM Says:

    I look for an HDHP plan and am OK with a high deductable. Our family deductable is $7000 and in 2009 we hit that in April, so all hospital and doctor visits from May-December have been free.

    To counter the high deductable, we budget the yearly max (around $6000) to contribute to an HSA.

    So we pay $60 per month for the HDHP
    and about $480 per month for HSA (company also contributes).
    We budget about $540 per month for family health coverage.

    I would not call a smoker "reasonably healthy" either.

  2. monkeymama Says:

    So, are you looking for an individual health plan? Not through employer?

    Things to consider: deductible, out-of-pocket, annual or lifetime maximum benefit, etc., etc. You've really got to read all the fine print when shopping around.

    High Deductible health plans tend to be the best for healthy savers. The costs are low and the industry is trying to push people into them. My health plan offers $1500 deductible for individuals. $3k for families. (Legally, I don't think HDHPs can be much lower - if at all lower). Then, you can put money aside into HSAs, tax free, as Jim mentioned.

    I think a lot of people overall tend to look at premiums & co-pays, and don't read all the fine print. Deductible and out-of-pocket maximums are also important to see what your potential liability is in case of illness. Beyond that, insurers usually have a long list of exactly what they do and do not cover. i.e. If I Was a young a woman I would sure as heck want maternity coverage, whether I *planned* to use it or not. Not all insurance covers prescriptions, maternity, etc.

  3. TampaBayYankee Says:

    Thanks both for the insights!

    @monkeymama - I was looking at individual plans as after seeing the plan offering by my husband's company I was shocked at how high the premiums were (about 500 a month for 2 adults), so I have 2 remaining options either I take up the health insurance plan offered by my company when I start work and become eligible or take an individual plan. I am going to investigate both options before deciding, but you comments certainly helped me identify some important points to look at. I am not used to health insurance plans being so tricky, but I will get used to it ;-)

  4. Jerry Says:

    If you can both be covered (individually) on the insurance from your own employers, it could end up saving you money. Many companies keep the coverage low for the actual employee, but lead the costs higher significantly when the employee tries to add on family members to the plan. As long as the coverage is decent, that could be worth looking into.

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