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5 Things to Consider When Purchasing Health Insurance for Your Family

Although it sounds both logical and moral that health insurance be labeled a ‘right’, for the past several years it has felt a lot more like a ‘privilege’. Tens of millions of Americans go without proper health insurance every day, and millions of the uninsured are children. The laws surrounding healthcare are changing, with Obama’s plan going into effect starting next year. That’s going to transform healthcare into an ‘obligation’ for individuals, families and businesses, for better or for worse. But whether health insurance is just something you take for granted or something you’re elated to finally be able to afford, you must choose your policy wisely. There are dozens of options out there, and each one comes with its own set of pros and cons. If you’re looking for a policy to cover your family, things get even more complicated. So here are five things to consider when purchasing health insurance for your family.

First of all, make sure you are more than familiar with all of the different options out there. It can be exorbitantly expensive to insure an entire family against medical emergencies, not to mention the regular checkups that are crucial for growing children. Although you might look at insurance in general, the various types of policies all pay out differently, cost different amounts of money and cover you in unique ways. So before you pick any of them, make sure you are fully educated about the similarities and differences between the major plan types: point of service, health maintenance organization, health savings account, preferred provider organization and traditional indemnity.

As you are looking to insure your family, you will have to think about the costs pretty early in the process. If your employer is providing the insurance coverage, do you have to pay into it? What’s the difference between protection levels based on your deductible? There’s a wide range of expense levels, each one providing a different scale of coverage. So when you’re ready to explore the details of a plan, make sure you understand how co-payments, deductibles, limitations and lifetime maximums impact your monthly bottom line.

Although you are likely to choose the least expensive policy, that’s not the only consideration. The five major types of insurance have their own advantages and disadvantages, and you’ll have to weigh all of them before moving forward. For example, the traditional indemnity plan allows you to pick any medical professional you want to consult, without concern for network restrictions. But that freedom comes with a steep price tag. Weigh the current and future needs of your family before moving on.

You know your needs and you know what you can afford to pay, so now it’s time to look at the various benefits and coverage limits. You might find that some plans simply don’t match up with your family requirements, so you can push those to the side. If you or a family member has a chronic illness, you’ll have to consider this as well. Does the coverage include a prescription plan? How many visits to specialists are you allowed in a given year? If you’re planning on expanding your family, is maternity care included? If you find a plan that matches up, you’ll be in good shape.

Finally, think about any issues that might classify you or a member of your family as hard to insure. This is a difficult label to shed once it has been given, and it will seriously hike up your coverage pricing. But from the large international HMO to the small business health insurance in Texas by Ihealthbrokers, every single insurance provider will go this route if they feel they must. Look for alternatives that might be more willing to work with you, such as plans offered by alumni associations or professional organizations.