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Insurance: Choices, Why, Where To Get Coverage
Many employers offer a choice of plans. The information provided will help you figure out the plan that's best for you.
You're not alone. Many people have questions about how to select a health insurance plan. The information provided will help you find some answers.
Health insurance is one of your most important needs. Without it, one serious illness or accident could wipe you out financially. The information provided will help you decide which is the best plan you can afford.
Do You Need Health Insurance?
that could be very expensive. You can't predict what your medical
bills will be. In a good year, your costs may be low. But if you
become ill, your bills could be very high. If you have insurance,
many of your costs are covered by a third-party payer, not by you.
A third-party payer can be an insurance company or, in some cases,
it can be your employer.
A Federal law makes it possible for most people to continue their group health coverage for a period of time. Called COBRA (for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985), the law requires that if you work for a business of 20 or more employees and leave your job or are laid off, you can continue to get health coverage for at least 18 months. You will be charged a higher premium than when you were working.
You also will be able to get insurance under COBRA if your spouse was covered but now you are widowed or divorced. If you were covered under your parents' group plan while you were in school, you also can continue in the plan for up to 18 months under COBRA until you find a job that offers you your own health insurance.
Not all employers offer health insurance. You might find this to be the case with your job, especially if you work for a small business or work part-time. If your employer does not offer health insurance, you might be able to get group insurance through membership in a labor union, professional association, club, or other organization. Many organizations offer health insurance plans to members.
Before you buy any health insurance policy, make sure you know what it will pay for...and what it won't. To find out about individual health insurance plans, you can call insurance companies, HMOs, and PPOs in your community, or speak to the agent who handles your car or house insurance.
Tips when shopping for individual insurance:
Shop carefully. Policies differ widely in coverage and cost. Contact
different insurance companies, or ask your agent to show you policies
from several insurers so you can compare them.
Are Your Choices?
Choosing a health insurance plan is like making any other major purchase: You choose the plan that meets both your needs and your budget. For most people, this means deciding which plan is worth the cost. For example, plans that allow you the most choices in doctors and hospitals also tend to cost more than plans that limit choices. Plans that help to manage the care you receive usually cost you less, but you give up some freedom of choice.
Cost isn't the only thing to consider when buying health insurance. You also need to consider what benefits are covered. You need to compare plans carefully for both cost and coverage.
Although there are many names for health insurance plans, the information here groups them as three main types:
Fee-For-Service (or Traditional Health Insurance)
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