Health Insurance Essentials

1. If you are purchasing your policy from a new and/or unfamiliar health insurance company, it is obviously very important to make sure the company has solid ratings, but even if the company is well known (i.e. Blue Cross, or Humana etc.) it's still always wise to check out any provider's health insurance ratings to make sure you are dealing with a valid and trustworthy business.

Remember, before insurers agree to supply you with a health insurance plan, they investigate you and your background . You should put them to the test as well. Look for insurer and health insurance ratings through A.M. Best, Moody's, or Weiss rating agencies.

2. In the event of a catastrophic illness or injury, your health insurance policy needs to provide a sufficient amount of health care coverage. However, to protect itself from ever having to pay too much, your insurer limits the lifetime payout. Therefore, lifetime payout is the maximum amount of reimbursement the health insurance company provides during your lifetime. To be safe you should look for a policy that has a lifetime payout of at least $1 million otherwise you run the risk of prematurely depleting the entire compensation for health care costs available to you.

3 An out-of-pocket maximum provision limits your out-of-pocket payments per year. It is important in the event of a serious illness or injury, and it is recommend that you consider only policies that carry one. However, remember a low maximum limit will increase the amount you pay in premiums. Try to establish a reasonable out-of-pocket maximum to balance risk with cost.

4. The renewable provision is a must. It guarantees your health insurance plan will not be canceled because you become ill. You may be required to continue paying your premiums while ill (unless the health insurance includes the waiver of premium provision too), but you won't lose your coverage.

5. Make sure your policy covers emergency medical services. In the past, some managed care plans were criticized because they required the primary care physician to approve emergency health care. Read through your health insurance plan paying special attention to the definition of emergency and verify with the health insurance company what is exactly covered.

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