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Affordable, Good Health Insurance; What to Look For

Health is everything. It impacts the present, and the future. Therefore, acquiring good health insurance is important. With rising medical and healthcare costs it is the only way to insure proper medical treatment, when it is needed the most.

Since not all healthcare policies are the same, or offer the same type benefits, shop wisely. Good health insurance will include the following:
  1. It will cover a good portion of the medical bills.
  2. It will offer protection against a financially debilitating illness.
  3. It will provide quality care now, as in years to come.
  4. It will provide the insured a choice in health care providers – even "midstream."

Finding the Right Low Cost Health Insurance for You

One desired employment perk is health insurance coverage, where the employee pays all or part of the monthly insurance premium. But persons working for businesses that do not provide health insurance, and persons who are either unemployed or self-employed, need to acquire coverage on their own.

There are various online resources for finding low cost health insurance that offer adequate healthcare policies. One such resource is American Insurance Depot. It offers a link for finding various bargain insurance providers in your area, including health insurance providers. They also offer an alphabetical listing of the various health insurances available with direct links to their web sites.

3 Basic Options when Obtaining Health Insurance

You have three basic options when it comes to health insurance:

  1. Spouse Coverage – as a general rule, obtaining coverage through a spouse whose employer provides group health insurance is less expensive and offers better coverage than what one could obtain on their own.
  2. Individual Health Insurance – a good option if you have no pre-existing medical conditions. Your health and present physical condition will be a factor taken into consideration before you are accepted. Your health will also be the guideline used for rating your coverage.
  3. Group Health Insurance – the main advantage of this type coverage is that you cannot be turned away because of health complications. Group health insurance is also a possible option for an individual with existing health problems, as many companies now offer health plans for "groups" of one.

How to Reduce the Cost of Health Insurance

In addition to shopping around for low cost health insurance, there are ways to reduce the high costs of health insurance in general. The hardest part of minimizing insurance costs is to determine which way of lowering the premium represents the least risk for your situation.

First, you can reduce your level of coverage. If you have no ongoing physical illnesses, and an annual trip to the doctor's office is the extent of your present healthcare plan, you don't need to pay higher premiums on insurance to cover each doctor's visit and prescription.

You can also obtain a policy with a higher deductible to save on premium costs. This might be a good option if you are reasonably healthy and don't require expensive medications. Increasing your deductible from $100 to $2,000 in many cases can cut your premium payment in half.

Paying your premium annually, instead of monthly or quarterly, will avoid service fees. Some health insurance policies also offer prepayment discounts, further enhancing the amount saved.

Other Ways to Save on Health Insurance Costs

Single persons, and those who are self-employed, can join an association that offers group insurance. The chamber of commerce, various trade and professional groups and small business associations sometimes offer its members discounted health insurance.

And, once again, the wonderful world of the web offers various resources for finding a low cost health insurance plan. And because there are no broker or agent fees, premiums are often lower.

Health Insurance Options for the Self-Employed

Many self-employed persons are provided the opportunity to save on the high cost of insurance under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This is done through a medical savings account (MSA).

It works like this. Health insurance premiums are reduced by replacing a low-deductible policy with a high-deductible one. The premium amount saved is applied as a tax-deductible contribution to the MSA.

These pre tax dollars can then be used to pay for medical expenses up to the limit of the deductible of the insurance policy. More information on this "double-dipped savings" for the policy holder can be found at the Institute for Health Freedom.

Short-Term Health Insurance

Short-term health insurance is a good money-saving option for healthy persons in transition. For instance, if you are: temporarily unemployed, temporarily working part-time, graduating from college, an early retiree, or waiting for other health insurance to "kick in."

As the name implies this is a low cost short-term health insurance. It provides the holder with medical coverage for a limited time. Usually, for six months. Some plans offer coverage for up to 12 months.

With an application process simpler than standard health insurances, short-term health insurance is designed to protect against unforeseen accidents and illnesses. They do not usually provide coverage for preventative care or pre-existing medical conditions.

Because of its long list of limitations and exclusions, however, it is advisable to read the coverage guidelines carefully before signing on.

Health Savings Account

Passed by the U. S. Congress and effective January 1, 2004, Health Savings Accounts (HSA) are tax-favored accounts used in conjunction with a qualifying health insurance plan. HSAs provide more affordable healthcare while saving tax dollars.

Similar to IRAs, aspects of an HSA include:

  • Pre-tax money deposited into the HSA can be withdrawn at any time. with no penalty or taxes to pay for qualified medical expenses.
  • HSA funds that remain in the account earn tax-free interest.
  • Even though the account belongs to you, your employer can contribute money to your HSA account.

A Word about Health Maintenance Organizations

Instead of health insurance, some persons rely on health maintenance organizations (HMOs) for their healthcare needs. Although some HMOs provide good service, this type healthcare plan is best for handling standard, well-known illnesses and other common health care problems in persons under 50.

Older persons and those with more complicated illnesses, or a combination of common illnesses, will benefit more from some other type healthcare plan. Why? The answer is simple.

HMOs' advertising thrust to seniors in the mid 1990s was, "Sign your Medicare over to us…you'll get unlimited care from our doctors." They guaranteed better care, and better coverage.

Despite their promises, however, over 2.5 million senior citizens have been dropped by HMOs since 1999, even though the government increased Medicare payments to HMOs during those same years.

The short of it is this: older persons with ongoing pharmaceutical drug and healthcare needs, and persons with complicated medical conditions, are not profitable for HMO purposes. Acquiring good health insurance coverage is essential, especially for these type persons.

By taking into consideration all these options, and with careful research and by shopping around, you can obtain a good healthcare policy. One with adequate coverage to meet your health needs, as well as your budget!



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