A visit to the doctor can cost hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars, and medications can be just as expensive each month. Trips to the emergency room only further increase the cost of medical care, and are one of the fastest ways to rack up a bill in the thousands. Finally, surgical care, anesthesiology and hospital stays make paying for your own health care nearly impossible. If you are forced to pay your own medical bills due to insufficient or nonexistent health insurance, you may face charges reaching hundreds of thousands of dollars, leading many people into bankruptcy. When compared to this possibility, the monthly cost of health insurance becomes infinitely more tolerable.
Employer Provided Health Insurance
Many health insurance policies are available through employment compensation plans. When you take a full-time job, you can elect to sign up for health, vision, and dental benefits, depending on the programs that your company offers. The plans' coverage will vary, and you may be given the option to select a plan with higher coverage for a larger monthly deduction from your paycheck. Again, while this may seem unnecessary or expensive, the cost of health care far outweighs the monthly expense of health insurance.
Some employers do offer healthcare at no additional charge, though you may want to purchase a supplemental plan to fill any gaps in coverage that free plans do not provide. Supplemental health insurance plans are typically less expensive than regular plans, and are a good choice for anyone with frequent or specific health care needs.
The group insurance plan provided by your employer, if you are charged for it, will likely be at a cost far less than that of an individual plan purchased on your own. Group health insurance plans are available at comparatively low rates because employers are able to negotiate terms and prices with health insurance companies.
Group health insurance plans cannot discriminate against people based on gender and preexisting conditions, an issue many people have faced with individual plans. State provided pre-existing condition insurance plans may be available in your area, and can provide insurance coverage for patients who are currently or have previously been diagnosed with severe medical conditions that have otherwise left them without insurance coverage.
Benefits And Pricing
Health insurance is available to offset some of the high costs of healthcare. Medical expenses include fees paid to doctors, payments for hospital services, long-term care services and laboratory fees. For example, instead of paying the total of $500 for an office visit to your doctor, health insurance would allow you to only owe a copayment typically ranging from $5 to $50, depending on your plan. The cost of prescription drugs is also often covered, though usually not in full, or occasionally at all for brand name drugs.
- A preferred provider organization (PPO) is a flexible plan that allows people to choose their doctors and specialists. In general, these plans tend to be more expensive, but policyholders retain a high level of flexibility when choosing doctors and treatment.
- Health maintenance organizations (HMOs) are less expensive than PPOs, but patients do not have the same freedom to select their preferred doctors and hospitals. With most HMOs, you cannot seek medical care outside of one, specifically designated medical group, and you need a primary care physician's authorization before seeing a specialist.
- A health savings account (HSA) is a health insurance plan that accompanies a high-deductible PPO. With an HSA, you pay all health expenses up to a certain dollar amount. Once you have spent that amount within a year, your health insurance covers any further expenses.
- A deductible is the amount that you must spend before your health insurance coverage becomes active. Deductible amounts can range from $100 to $3,000, also impacting the price of your monthly payments, depending on your plan. The deductible is annual, which means that you will need to meet that amount before your health insurance becomes active for that year.
Every health insurance plan is different, with varying price and coverage benefits. The specific terms are available in your contract, and should be viewed before you sign up for one. Verify with the different health insurance companies what is covered in each specific plan. Comparing companies and policies to ensure you are getting the most for your money isn't always easy, but it is definitely worth it. Consider your specific health needs, preferred doctors, nearby hospitals and your budget when examining the plans to find the best match for you and any family members that will be included on the plan.
Companies And Regions
Health insurance companies and policies vary by state, region and age. Research the specific companies and plans available in your area, as well as potential price increases or drops due to your age. Purchasing health insurance may seem costly, but the risk of being injured or become sick without coverage is much greater. Avoid hundreds, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of expenses by signing up for an employer provided health care plan, or enrolling in an individual plan.