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Benefits and Coverage: 5 Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing Your Health Insurance

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Any sort of health insurance can leave us fraught with questions and uncertainties. But those of us, who have been chronically under-insured or completely uninsured may not know where to begin. There are certain questions you should ask before signing up for a healthcare plan, and here are five of the most important. They may vary depending on where you live, and who is providing the coverage.

1. Who is Providing the Coverage?

First and foremost, we must choose a provider. For instance, are you an American looking into Medicare? Or are you going private? Europeans on the move need to learn more about the EHIC. If you’re going private, you want to examine all of the following questions with each provider in order to compare. If you’re going government, your options are more limited, so study your plan as much as you are able.

2. Are Medications Covered?

If you take prescriptions, you need to determine is these are covered by your providers. In some cases, such as with Medicare, you need coverage especially devised for prescription drug coverage. Medicine can impact costs associated with other considerations on this list, so go over it thoroughly.

3. What’s Coming Out of your Pocket?

A lot of insurance comes with something called a deductible. A deductible is an amount you have to pay yourself prior to the insurance provider stepping up and kicking in. For example, a $500 deductible means you need to accrue that amount in eligible health services, which you personally owe. Most additional associated costs are covered.

You should also inquire about hospital visits and stays. Some plans do not cover these or have different terms for overnight stays.

Sometimes you can choose the amount of your deductible, but proceed with caution – an attractive deductible typically indicates a higher monthly premium.

4. Are There Copays, too?

So once that deductible is met, we’re good, right? Not so fast, unfortunately. There are certain services or medicines that may require a copay. A copay is where you pay alongside the insurance company for post-deductible items. On the bright side, copays for routine services and certain prescriptions are generally pretty low.

5. Where Can I Be Treated?

Finally, you must consider where it is your insurance can take you. Are you restricted to a specific network of hospitals and doctors? Will your current primary care physician accept your new insurance? What about dentists, dermatologists and therapists? In many cases, it comes down to the reason for your visit, but not every office accepts all forms of insurance. With private insurance, you’ll have to be cautious and call ahead to ensure coverage. With many government plans, your options are many. For example, more than 87% of doctors accept new Medicare patients.

Health insurance helps us prevent going into massive debt from injury and illness. Start examining your options now, get answers for each of the questions above, and you can enjoy the benefits of routine and preventative care, as opposed to being forced to see a doctor when there are no other options.

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