After you review what benefits are available and decide what
is important to you, you can compare plans. Many things should
be considered. These include services offered, choice of providers,
location, and costs. The quality of care is also a factor to think
Look at the services offered by each plan. What services are limited
or not covered? Is there a good match between what is provided
and what you think you will need? For example, if you have a chronic
disease, is there a special program for that illness? Will the
plan provide the medicines and equipment you may need? Find out
what types of care or services the plan won't pay for. These usually
are called exclusions. Few indemnity and managed care plans cover
treatments that are experimental. Ask how the plan decides what
is or is not experimental. Find out what you can do if you disagree
with a plan's decision on medical care or coverage.
What doctors, hospitals, and other medical providers are part
of the plan? Are there enough of the kinds of doctors you want
to see? Do you need to choose a primary care doctor? If you want
to see a specialist, can you refer yourself or must your primary
care doctor refer you? Do you need approval from the plan before
going into the hospital or getting specialty care?
Where will you go for care? Are these places near where you work
or live? How does the plan handle care when you are away from
No health insurance plan will cover every expense. To get a true
idea of what your costs will be under each plan, you need to look
at how much you will pay for your premium and other costs.
- Are there deductibles you must pay before the insurance begins
to help cover your costs?
- After you have met your deductible, what part of your costs
are paid by the plan?
- Does this amount vary by the type of service, doctor, or health
- Are there co-payments you must pay for certain services, such
as doctor visits?
- If you use doctors outside a plan's network, how much more
will you pay to get care?
- If a plan does not cover certain services or care that you
think you will need, how much will you have to pay?
- Are there any limits to how much you must pay in case of major
- Is there a limit on how much the plan will pay for your care
in a year or over a lifetime? A single hospital stay for a serious
condition could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
You can't know in advance what your health care needs for the
coming year will be. But you can guess what services you and your
family might need. Figure out what the total costs to your family
would be for these services under each plan.