We all know that health insurance is important, especially amid rising medical treatment costs both in and outside of the US. Health insurance premiums can significantly weigh on the budget, though. So, how can you save money on health insurance without sacrificing on coverage quality? To help, this article sponsored by international health insurance brokerage Pacific Prime offers the below 6 tips on how to save money on health insurance.
#1: The price is not always right
While this may sound counter-intuitive to the topic of this article, buying the cheapest health insurance plan can save you a little money at the very beginning, but will likely cost you more in the long run. Indeed, you get what you pay for, and while buying a plan based on price alone may seem like a great idea, the cheapest plan will likely be ill-fitting for your needs and offer minimal coverage, meaning you’ll likely be spending a lot more further down the line (e.g. paying for treatments that are not covered by your plan).
Another point worth noting here is that cheap health insurance plans are often offered by less reputable insurers, who are more likely to employ the tactic of attracting clients with too-good-to-be-true prices, only to dramatically increase premiums upon renewal to make up for their initial ‘loss’ caused by offering cheap premiums. Should this happen, it won’t be financially viable for the policyholder to keep the same plan.
Of course, you are free to switch insurers/plans in the future, but keep in mind the issue of pre-existing conditions. Any condition that you’ve developed and/or received treatment for during your current plan will be deemed as pre-existing by your new insurer, and subsequently excluded from coverage. And, should you find an insurer who agrees to cover your pre-existing condition, you will most likely have to pay a higher premium, or agree to the imposition of a waiting period on your plan, meaning you won’t be able to submit any claims related to the treatment of your condition until after a certain time has passed.
Finally, based on our extensive experience, we’ve also found that cheap health insurance plans tend to have the following issues:
- Poor customer service
- Low coverage limits
- Many exclusions
- High out-of-pocket costs
- A narrow network of healthcare providers
#2: Find a health insurance plan that best fits your personal situation
To ensure you’re getting the best value health insurance plan, it is important to ascertain your healthcare needs. There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all plan, so it will be important to review your healthcare and personal situation. For example, if you’re thinking of having a baby in the foreseeable future, it will be important to look for a plan that also covers maternity treatment. And if, say, you have a condition that requires ongoing treatment, you might want to find an insurer who would be willing to cover treatment related to your condition.
#3: Select the right benefits
Another thing to keep in mind here is that health insurance benefits can differ significantly between plans. The ideal benefits will depend on your healthcare needs; in our experience, some of the most sought-after benefits include:
- Dental treatment cover
- Vaccination coverage
- International coverage
- Maternity insurance benefits
- Health-checkup benefits
- Newborn cover
Naturally, the more benefit-rich your plan is, the more it will cost you. If your budget is on the higher side, you may want to opt for things like worldwide health insurance coverage or major dental cover. However, if your budget is fairly tight and you only want the most basic coverage, a hospitalization insurance plan that only covers inpatient hospital treatment may be ideal for your needs.
#4: Consider your deductible and copayment options
Copays and deductibles are great ways for both insurers and consumers alike to lower the cost of their insurance plans.
Deductibles refer to the amount you pay first, either on an ‘annual, per person’ basis, or an ‘annual, per medical condition, per person basis’, before the insurer pays anything. As a general rule of thumb, the higher your deductible is, the lower your premium will be – and vice versa. We often advise people to have a higher deductible on their hospitalization coverage, and a lower deductible on their outpatient treatment coverage, as people are generally more likely to use outpatient benefits (i.e. GP and specialist visits and treatment) vis-a-vis hospitalization treatment.
Co-payments, on the other hand, refer to the amount you have to pay every time you submit a claim, after the deductible has been met. As with deductibles, introducing copayments can be a great way to lower the cost of your health plan, but it is important to exercise caution when adjusting deductibles and copays, as it can be risky if you’re on a tight budget and need to see the doctor frequently.
#5: Ask about health insurance discounts
Some, but not all insurers will offer some form of discount, especially if you purchase a family health plan that covers your loved ones. Discounts come in many guises; some come in the form of a multi-child discount, which may mean you’ll only have to pay for your first child and any subsequent child is covered for free. It is definitely worth asking your insurer if discounts are available, as they can save you a lot of money in the long run.
#6: Consider the plan’s network of providers
Different insurers and plans will have their own network of providers as a cost-containment measure. Of course, you are still free to choose any doctor or clinic for care, but it is important to bear in mind that you likely won’t get full reimbursement for treatment at out-of-network providers; in some cases, you may even find your claim outright denied.
What is the best way to find the most affordable health insurance plan?
Finding health insurance plans by yourself can be easy, but much easier if you talk to an established insurance broker like Pacific Prime. Partnered with 60+ world renown insurers, Pacific Prime helps clients compare, secure, and review plans from only the most established insurance companies, so you can rest assured that you’ll get the best value out of your health insurance plan. Contact Pacific Prime’s friendly team today for impartial advice, and a free quote!