How to choose a health insurance plan
If you’re looking to secure health insurance, you’ll soon realize that your options are indeed endless. With the sheer number of insurers and plans out there, how do you wade through all of them, and choose the right option for you? In our experience as a global health insurance broker, we’ve noticed that individuals often factor in the premiums, while losing sight of other key considerations. More often than not, this comes to bite them in the back further down the line.
So, in this Pacific Prime article, we’ll explain how to properly choose a health insurance plan. This will involve familiarizing yourself with insurance terms, as well as your own health situation and lifestyle. Once you’ve understood this, you can head over to our dedicated compare health insurance page, where you’ll be able to access our quotation tool to review plans from top insurers, as well as choose the right one for your needs and budget.
Defining key insurance terms
Before you even consider any health insurance plan, you’ve got to make sure you’re crystal clear on the terms of the plan, which will likely be filled with insurance jargon. This will enable you to assess whether you’re getting a good deal and to avoid potential disappointment later on. Here are some common insurance terms you may come across:
- Deductible: This is the amount you have to pay out of pocket before your health insurance plan kicks in and the insurer starts paying. If the premiums are unusually low, chances are it’s got a high deductible.
- Co-insurance: This is the amount of money you’ll have to pay for the cost of a covered treatment, following the payment of the deductible (if there’s any). The co-insurance is usually charged as a percentage of the costs.
- Exclusion/Limitation: This is any condition, situation, or treatment that your health insurance plan will not cover, such as pre-existing conditions (conditions you’ve had before securing medical insurance).
- Rider: This is a coverage option that can expand your basic health insurance plan, but for an additional premium. Typically, riders include maternity, dental, and pre-existing condition coverage.
- Waiting period or moratorium: This is a period of time in which you may have to wait before specific coverage benefits will apply. Maternity coverage often comes with a waiting period.
- And more.
Knowing your health situation and lifestyle
Your health situation and lifestyle will largely determine which health insurance plan works best for you. For example, if you’ve got a pre-existing condition, you’ve got to keep an eye out for this when looking at plans. You should also note that while insurers are often reluctant to provide coverage for this, they’ll generally charge an extra premium or attach a waiting period in exchange for coverage.
What’s more, you’ve also got to consider your lifestyle. Are you planning to have a baby in the near future? If so, you might need to secure maternity insurance as well, though well in advance of getting pregnant, due to waiting periods. Likewise, if you’re planning to get health insurance for the entire family, then you should look into a family insurance plan as this is an overall cheaper option.
Based on your health situation and lifestyle, you’ll begin to have an idea of the kind of coverage you’ll need. As a minimum, you can expect health insurance plans to include coverage for inpatient treatment, which is any treatment you receive when you’re admitted to the hospital overnight. If you’d like other benefits as well, you can scan the policy for the following benefits:
- Dental treatment cover
- Vaccination benefits
- Health check-up benefits
- Outpatient treatment cover (treatment you receive when you’re not admitted to the hospital overnight, such as general practitioner visits)
- Pregnancy and childbirth benefits
- Newborn insurance
Examining medical insurance plans
Now, you’ll be in a better position to examine and compare health insurance plans. In addition to price and benefits, there are still a couple of other things you need to bear in mind. For example, you’ll want to make sure the claims process is straightforward, so you’re not wasting hours trying to get your money back. The following elaborates on all the things you should be considering when choosing health insurance plans:
Of course, you can’t ignore the price. But you should understand why the premiums are low and what you’ll be compromising on. For example, is it cheap because there’s a lot of exclusions? Generally speaking, try to strike a balance between the cost and the benefits.
Does the plan only cover you in one country? Or is it an international health insurance plan, which allows you to travel and relocate to another country, whilst retaining coverage? If you’re an expat or move around often, this might be a better option for you.
Likewise, is the provider network wide? This will give you more options as it’s recommended to go to a hospital that’s part of your insurer’s network of providers. These hospitals tend to have direct billing services, allowing them to bill your insurer directly.
Insurer reputation and renewability
Going with a reputable insurer is a smart move as they’ll be able to provide better customer service and have more stable price increases. Similarly, going with a plan and insurer that has a “lifetime renewability” is also better as it provides a more long-term insurance solution.
Want to get started today? Pacific Prime can help.
While you may be able to find health insurance plans on your own, going through a broker like Pacific Prime definitely has its merits. As we’ve been in the industry for over two decades now, we’re experts in helping individuals find the right plan. Not only this, but we also provide support services at no additional cost to you. Whether it’s liaising with insurers or managing claims, our expert advisors are on hand to help.
Start the process by heading over to our compare health insurance page and using our handy online quotation tool!
Alternatively, contact us today!
Outside of work, Suphanida enjoys traveling to new places and immersing herself in different cultures.
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