Which Health Insurance Plan Is Right For You?

by : Casey Yew

Our good health is one of the most important possessions we have - and with the cost of health care rising, health insurance is one of those things that just makes sense. The possibility of you or a loved one being affected by serious illness isn't something you like to dwell on, but it definitely pays to think about the consequences of such an event before it actually happens.

Chronic or serious illnesses are expensive, and without health insurance, getting the medical treatment you need may be difficult if not impossible. A comprehensive health insurance plan can take some of the worry out of life with the reassurance of knowing that if the worst happens, your medical expenses are covered.

When you're shopping for a health insurance plan, there are several things you'll want to consider when deciding what type of plan is best for you and your circumstances.

- Your lifestyle will affect the cost of your insurance coverage - if you smoke, are overweight, or have an otherwise unhealthy lifestyle, your insurance costs will be higher. Pre-existing medical conditions will also increase the cost of your insurance coverage.
- Most plans cover normal medical expenses - but before signing anything, think about what other services you and your family are likely to need, and if the plans you're considering cover those needs. This is where it pays to know about the medical history of your relatives, so that you can make decisions based upon what types of medical conditions might run in the family.
- If you require specialist care, make sure your plan covers it.
- Emergency care - usually a referral from your doctor is a prerequisite of emergency medical care. Some health insurance policies won't pay for weekend hospital visits unless you are referred by your doctor, and some will require that you wait until a weekday if it's not a matter of life and death. Check out these types of details before making a commitment.
- Prescriptions - think about what prescriptions you currently need and what you may require in the future. Insurance plans vary as to the percentage you are required to pay on prescriptions, and some charge a flat fee rather than a percentage.
- Supplemental insurance - dental insurance and chronic or acute illnesses such as cancer are not usually covered by normal health insurance. Dental insurance is usually covered by an entirely separate policy. Diseases such as cancer, or critical conditions such as heart attack or stroke, can quickly become expensive, and supplemental insurance is designed to kick in when regular health coverage is exhausted.

Before you commit to an insurance plan, make sure you're absolutely clear on what is and isn't covered. Your policy will list services that are covered, and will also list those that aren't covered. Bear in mind that your insurance company decides what expenses they will pay for, not your doctor.

Your doctor may decide you need a specific medical procedure, but that won't make your insurance company change their mind about covering it if it's not included in your insurance plan. It's a good idea to be very familiar with the terms of your policy, so that you can let your doctor know what you're covered for - when possible, your doctor can then recommend medical care and services that you insurance policy will pay for.