An Important Choice: Health Care Insurance

There are many factors that need to be considered when selecting a health care insurance company, especially if that company is not already chosen by the person's employer, professional organization or union. This decision is even more important if there is the possibility of long-term health care insurance needed in the near future, as the cost of in-home care or nursing homes can get very expensive very quickly.

Types of Health Insurance

The type of health care insurance that an individual should buy depends on a variety of features, such as how many people need to be covered, if there are long term care needs, how much choice he wants to have in doctors and prescriptions, and whether the claims are submitted automatically or not. Network based health care insurance means that there are a group of providers that have all contracted together to provide more reasonable health care services to those who are insured under the network health plan. These plans are called managed care plans that include HMOs, PPOs and POS's. These health care insurance plans are usually less expensive than other plans that are not managed, but there are usually more rules about getting pre-approval for certain services as well as specific lists of doctors and hospitals that are covered by the plans.

Non-network, or indemnity health care insurance plans are private insurance companies that cover services from any eligible providers that a person goes to. Although there is still normally a need to list who is the primary care physician and to get approval from that physician to go to specialists, the person usually has more of a choice of providers rather than being relegated to a list of providers in the network. Indemnity health care insurance usually requires the individual to submit claims for reimbursement, although some health care providers will still do it for the individual. They usually cost more as well and have higher deductibles.

Whichever plan an individual chooses for health care insurance, he should consider carefully what types of options he wants included in the plan and should always read the fine print before signing. He should check to see what the premiums are, what the coverage is and benefits of the health care insurance plan. He should also check on the access to doctors, hospitals and other providers and make sure that after hour and emergency care is included. In addition, he should know what the out-of-pocket expenses will be, such as copays and deductibles, as well as any exclusions or limitations in the plan.