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Everyone knows the importance of having health insurance, but are you still going about it the old-fashioned way? Comparison shopping is essential because not all health plans are the same. The benefits, costs, and quality of care differ depending on the plan, and each health insurer will offer different plans with varying costs and benefits. For instance, plan A may have a higher deductible than plan B.

Common Terms

There are, of course, some basic guidelines and terms you must know when comparison shopping for health plans. We have picked a few of the most important from dozens of choices:

  • HMO: A health management organization is a plan that gives you coverage within a certain network of doctors. Generally, you choose a primary care physician (PCP) who is your regular doctor and also issues referrals to specialists. If you don’t see a PCP that is part of the HMO network, you will probably have to pay for the treatment yourself.
  • PPO: A preferred provider organization is a network of physicians and specialists who have pre-agreed rates with your insurer. A PPO plan usually costs more than an HMO, but you get a greater level of flexibility.
  • Deductible: In most plans, you will not receive any help from your insurer until you have contributed a certain amount towards your medical treatment each year. This is known as a deductible, and the more you agree to pay, the lower your insurance premium will be.
  • Copayment: A copayment is the amount you are required to spend for each visit to a doctor. The sum is usually $10 to $50 depending on the type of plan you choose.
  • COBRA: This is a government plan that enables you to leave your job but continue using your employer’s health plan for up to 18 months after you stop working at the company. However, you have to pay the full amount of the plan yourself without your employer’s contributions.

Things to Consider

  • Your Medical History: Do you have pre-existing medical conditions? Do you take prescription medicine, etc?
  • Family Coverage: What are your family’s medical needs, and are you covered by your spouse or an employer plan?
  • How Does Your Existing Coverage Compare to Old/New Coverage? If you switch coverage, you may have to switch your PCP or prescriptions.

Information You Will Need

For a quick quote, have the following personal information on hand:

  • Full name
  • Gender
  • Date of birth
  • Address
  • City, county, and state of residence
  • ZIP code
  • Email address
  • Daytime phone number
  • Estimated household annual income
  • Desired date for start of coverage

The Health Plan One comparison service allows you to compare the prices of thousands of health plans in your area. As you can quickly narrow down your choice, be sure to crunch those numbers to see if you are getting more for your money. A health savings account (HSA) may also be worth considering, as it could alleviate some of your extra costs.

The era of spending days and weeks agonizing over your health insurance plan is long gone. Use the Health Plan One comparison tool to zero in on the best plan for you and your loved ones.

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