Family insurance is essential for protecting the health and financial stability of the entire family. It offers security, inspires proactive healthcare, gives peace of mind, family members’ well-being, and encourages a sense of unity and shared responsibility. Life is uncertain, and its unpredictability (unforeseen circumstances such as accidents, sicknesses, or natural disasters) can expose families to potential financial stress. And to defy such a situation, one must go for family health insurance, which covers medical expenses, hospital bills, and other related costs, easing the burden on the family’s finances. However, simply having insurance is not enough; understanding how to optimize family health insurance for maximum benefits is crucial. Knowledge of maximizing family health insurance unlocks the key to enhancing coverage and reaping its full potential.
Tips to Maximize Your Family’s Health Insurance
A health insurance plan provides medical and financial support for you and your family. Besides keeping our health in check with covered routine check-ups and medications, it can give you peace of mind from high medical costs. However, the terms used in health insurance can be very confusing. It’s one of the reasons why millions of people ended up underinsured or, worse, uninsured. Some may even pay good yet expensive coverage, which can actually be taken at a lower cost. To ensure you’re getting the most out of your health insurance, here are six tips you can follow.
1. Find the Right Insurance Plan
The first step is to find the right insurance plan. It should provide the best coverage for your and your family’s medical needs and best fit for your current finances. Doing this right from the start helps cover all your bases, including medical procedures or potential surgeries.
To find the right health insurance, always do your research. Go to your health insurance marketplace based on what’s available to you. The first and most affordable option is through an employer. Most employers pay all or a portion of workers’ insurance premiums.
If your company doesn’t offer health insurance, shopping at your state’s online marketplace is the second option. Visit HealthCare.gov and enter your ZIP code to reach your state’s exchange. If there’s none, use the federal marketplace.
The last option is through a private exchange or directly from an insurance company. However, these won’t likely make you eligible for income-based discounts on your monthly premiums, also known as “premium “tax credits.”
2. Understand the Details of A Health Plan
Ensure that you understand the details of a health plan, including its type, network, and out-of-the-pocket costs. It doesn’t only ensure that you and your gets the medical care stated in your coverage but also helps you take the right steps in getting the services you need. More importantly, it helps you avoid unexpected costs. Check out the list of the most common types of health insurance plans shared below:
Types of Health Insurance Plans
- HMO or Health Maintenance Organization: The overall budget-friendly plan due to its lower out-of-pocket costs, but you’ll have less freedom to choose providers.
- EPO or Exclusive Provider Organization: Compared to HMO, it has higher premiums but a larger in-network.
- POS or Point of Service: It has out-of-network coverage but higher premiums than HMO.
- PPO or Preferred Provider Organization: It’s recommended if you need medical care and can afford higher premiums. The plan has the most freedom since it has more provider options and doesn’t require referrals.
- HDHP or High Deductible Health Plan: It’s an affordable alternative for PPO. It has lower premiums but higher upfront out-of-pocket costs. Fortunately, with HDHP, you can open a Health Savings Account (HSA). It’s a tax-advantaged account that can cover some or all of your deductibles.
Health Plan Networks
Regarding health plan networks, the costs are lower with in-network providers than with out-of-network providers. Moreover, if you have preferred providers, see to it they’re in the provider directories of the health plan you’re considering to save more. However, if you don’t have any preferences, opt for a plan with a more extensive network. It gives you more options and better odds of finding a local doctor connected to your plan, especially if you live in a rural community.
Additionally, your out-of-pocket costs will be lower if your premiums are high. On a positive note, it offers more coverage. It’s best recommended if you need medical consultation or emergency care frequently, take brand-name or costly medications regularly, expect a baby, have surgery, or are diagnosed with a chronic condition. If you can’t afford the higher monthly premiums, opt for a plan with lower monthly premiums yet higher out-of-pocket costs. It’s best for people who are in good health and rarely see a doctor.
3. Know About the Benefits
It’s also crucial to check a plan’s benefits. Some plans may have better coverage for mental health care, physical therapy, fertility treatments, and the like, while others have better emergency coverage.
By checking a plan’s scope of services at its summary of benefits, your options can be narrowed down to just a few plans. It also helps you avoid missing out on what’s better suited to you and your family.
4. Take Advantage of Discounts and Special Programs
Many insurance companies offer additional perks, such as discounts and special programs. These may include discounts on fitness centers, health and wellness programs, free mental health consultations, or otc cards. You may ask, what is the otc card for? It’s a card, usually prepaid, that may cover select over-the-counter medical products, including vitamins, medications, durable medical equipment (DME), or health and wellness items. One example of it is Medicare Advantage otc cards. Here are other health insurance discounts you may find helpful:
- Discounts on premium: usually available if you opt for longer policy tenure;
- No-claim bonus: if you spend a claim-free year, you can get this reward in either of these two ways: (1) premium discounts at the time of your policy renewal or (2) eligibility for an increase in your sum insured up to 50% yearly;
- Family discounts: you get a discount rate on your policy premium if other members of your family get covered under your health policy; and
- Network discounts: only available if you avail medical facilities, get treatments, or purchase medicines, at health providers under your insurer’s network.
Remember that availing maximum benefits to safeguard your hard-earned money is your aim as an insured individual. It’s another way to not miss out on privileges that might be helpful for your and your family’s overall health.
5. Customize the Coverage with Add-on Benefits
Add-ons are benefits you can optionally add to your health insurance coverage when you buy or renew a policy. Examples of these are daily allowance (additional cash expenses you might incur if you’re hospitalized), annual health check-ups, and ambulance cover.
It’s another way to get the most out of your health plan for you and your family. The only downside of it is that it increases your premium. However, considering the potential medical cost you have to deal with in the case of medical contingencies, customizing your insurance benefits will pay off. This is especially true if you know your family has a medical history or your job or lifestyle is prone to accidents or health issues.
6. Plan The Timing of Procedures Strategically
If you soon have a big medical procedure you can plan for, approach its scheduling so you can maximize your health care coverage. For example, before getting a big procedure, wait until you’ve met your deductible, which resets to zero every January 1 each year. In this case, instead of you paying a big out-of-pocket bill, your insurance is more likely to pay the bulk of the surgery cost, saving you tons of money.
It’s crucial to get the right health insurance plan. Although staying fit and healthy is in our hands, a financial crisis may still come unexpectedly, which multiplies uncontrollably in medical emergencies. Remember that a healthy lifestyle paired with financial security is our greatest win.
Also Read: Five most important and must-have insurance policies for everyone to attain peace of mind as well as financial protection.