Six Keys to Solid Health Insurance


If you find yourself in the market for an insurance plan, there are several factors to consider. Individual plans may not cover the same services as group plans and prices vary depending on your health and age.

Here are some key elements to consider:

Your needs. Check if the plan covers what you need, such as prescription drugs, out-of-network care or treatment for chronic conditions. Opting for a full suite of services can be significantly more expensive, so consider a more basic option if you're relatively young and healthy.

Out-of-pocket costs. Picking a plan with a higher out-of-pocket cost — the amount you need to pay before your insurer starts reimbursing you — will keep your monthly premium down. Consider which cost structure works best for your needs.

Co-payments. These are flat payments you have to pay for specific services. For instance, your co-payment for a doctor's visit might be $25, with the insurer picking up the rest of the cost. This fee can vary significantly depending on the plan you pick.

Out-of-network care. If you have a regular doctor you want to continue using, check if she's in your plan's network. Costs for going to an out-of-network care provider can be significantly more expensive.

Quality of care. Check with family, friends or former co-workers enrolled with the same insurer. Ask whether they have difficulty getting reimbursements. You may even want to ask your doctor about her experience with the insurer.

Alternatives. If you need to get your whole family covered, compare the cost between a family plan versus individual plans for you and your spouse, and seeking coverage for your children through your state's health insurance plan for children.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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