Health insurance is important for Americans of all ages, but figuring out how to get it can feel overwhelming. Residents who do not understand their insurance plan fully before purchasing it might find themselves paying for unexpected medical expenses. Continue reading to learn about health insurance plans and how to choose the best one for your needs.
Basics of Health Insurance
Residents must understand health insurance basics if they want to find the right healthcare plan. Americans looking for insurance should learn about the kinds of plans that are available, how they work and the differences between each. Furthermore, understanding health insurance terms can help residents choose the most appropriate plan.
The cheapest plan is not always the best plan when it comes to health insurance. For example, a plan with a low monthly premium can be cheaper in the short term but may result in high costs later due to a high deductible. Therefore, residents shopping for healthcare should carefully examine their needs and choose a plan that offers coverage for those needs.
How to Obtain Health Insurance
Every U.S. resident has different healthcare needs. Thus, the right healthcare coverage option varies from person to person. Insurance plans are typically offered by employers, but residents can purchase healthcare through other avenues. Most employers pay for a portion of monthly premiums so plans purchased through a job are often cheaper. However, residents who are unemployed, self-employed or were not offered insurance through their job can purchase a plan through the health insurance Marketplace.
The Marketplace was established under the Affordable Care Act to make health insurance accessible to more Americans. Anyone can purchase insurance through the Marketplace but only households with total incomes between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level can qualify for tax credits. These tax credits help to lower the cost of insurance plans in the Marketplace.
Another option for families is Medicaid. Under this program, low-income residents are better able to afford health services.
Certain residents who lose their health insurance due to work-related circumstances such as termination may be able to extend their coverage for a certain period of time. Certain employee health insurance plans are required to offer coverage extensions to families under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). Under COBRA, policy holders can keep their coverage for a limited time while they look for a new plan. Job loss is considered a qualifying event under most health insurance providers with open enrollment periods. For instance, employees who have lost group health insurance can enroll in a plan through the Marketplace outside of the open enrollment period.
Learn About Dental Insurance
Dental insurance is similar to health insurance in that it requires a deductible to be met before coverage begins. Insured residents typically also have to make copayments for each dental visit. However, dental insurance is usually cheaper than health coverage plans.
Residents should learn how dental insurance works before they decide on a plan. Dental plans can either come as part of a health insurance package or be sold separately. Separate plans usually cover preventive services but may require policy holders to meet at deductible before covering other procedures. Many procedure are only partially covered and require out-of-pocket payments.
Some dental plans can be purchased commercially. Certain plans limit policy holders to dentists within the plans’ network while others allow the insured to choose a dentist outside of the network. Preferred provider organizations (PPOs) allow policy holders more freedom in their choice of dentist. With a PPO plan, residents pay higher monthly premiums but can receive coverage for visits with dentists who are in or outside of the network. On the other hand, health maintenance organizations (HMOs) limit policy holders to dentists within network but have lower premium costs. Residents can also choose between a dental savings plan or dental indemnity plan if they would prefer an alternative to dental insurance.
Learn About Other Types of Health Coverage
Other types of health insurance options are available including short-term insurance plans that cover gaps in health insurance coverage. Short-term insurance can be purchased for a certain amount of time and typically only provide minimal coverage for things like emergencies.
International health insurance plans are also available for residents traveling abroad for an extended period of time. Those who are traveling for a short amount of time can purchase travel insurance to cover medical emergencies or accidents. Travel insurance can be a good option as health insurance can be expensive in any country.