You've done a lot of comparison shopping, and you're ready to seal the deal. Make one last research effort -- check the ratings of the insurance company that you've chosen with the Better Business Bureau and with A.M. Best, a financial services rating company. Since we've focused primarily on buying insurance online, you'll want to double-check that you won't fall victim to a scam.
When you're satisfied, you can contact the company and begin the process of applying for insurance. Be honest and accurate about your medical history when filling out the application. The insurance company will complete a process called underwriting; once you've been approved, carefully check all documents that are sent to you. Your chart will come in handy for this, because you'll be able to ascertain that you'll receive the benefits you want for the price you agreed to.
Once you've purchased your health insurance plan, don't forget about all of the hard work you did to get there. During the research process, we looked in to what doctors were in a provider's network and which services were eligible for coverage. In order to get the best value for your money, you'll want to heed these findings. If you use the doctors, hospitals and pharmacies that have contracts with your insurer, you won't be subject to additional out-of-network costs.
Though we focused on "must-haves" and "might-needs" when shopping for a health insurance plan, you can also consider the "special bonuses" that come with your insurance plan. These might include things like discounts for health clubs, counseling to draw up a nutritional plan or incentives for quitting smoking. While these services may not have been paramount during your insurance search, using them if you do have them can help to keep you healthy, hopefully avoiding those scary "might-needs" of surgery and hospitalization.
Want to learn more about health insurance? See the links below.
- Bittner, Sylvia. "How to shop for health insurance." Michigan Farm Bureau. (July 22, 2010)http://www.michfb.com/files/benefits/health_insurance/3.%20How%20to%20shop%20for%20health%20insurance.pdf
- Cohen, Elizabeth. "How to shop for health insurance." CNN. March 12, 2009. (July 22, 2010)http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/03/12/choosing.private.insurance/index.html
- Dratch, Dana. "Buying Private Health Insurance." Bankrate.com. Dec. 30, 2008. (July 22, 2010)http://www.bankrate.com/finance/insurance/buying-private-health-insurance-1.aspx
- Ehrenfeld, Temma. "How to Shop for Health Insurance." CBS MoneyWatch. June 29, 2010. (July 22, 2010)http://moneywatch.bnet.com/saving-money/article/buy-health-insurance-how-to-shop-for-a-plan/439890/
- HealthCare.gov Web site. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (July 22, 2010)http://www.healthcare.gov/
- "How to Shop for Health Insurance." Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois. (July 22, 2010)http://www.bcbsil.com/getting_started/how_to_shop/index.html
- "How to Shop for Health Insurance." Wall Street Journal. (July 22, 2010)http://guides.wsj.com/personal-finance/insurance/how-to-shop-for-health-insurance/
- Konrad, Walecia. "When Choosing Health Care, Know What You'll Owe." New York Times. July 9, 2010. (July 22, 2010)http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/10/health/10patient.html
- Robertson, Christopher Tarver, Richard Egelhof and Michael Hoke. "Get Sick, Get Out: The Medical Causes of Home Mortgage Foreclosures." Health Matrix. 2008. (July 28, 2010)http://law.case.edu/student_life/organizations/healthmatrix/files/Robertson%20Final%20Article.pdf
- "Shopping for health insurance work sheet." Bankrate.com. 2007. (July 22, 2010)http://www.bankrate.com/brm/news/Financial_Literacy/pdf/Aug07_work_sheet_health_a1.pdf
- "Smart Tips for Buying Health Insurance Online." U.S. News and World Report. Feb. 24, 2009. (July 22, 2010)http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2009/02/24/smart-tips-for-buying-health-insurance-online.html