With open enrollment just around the corner, it’s time to start considering the healthcare coverage options available to you this upcoming year. But with so many factors to think about before purchasing your plan, finding the one that completely suits your needs can be difficult, costing you time, money and aggravation later down the line that could’ve been spared if the proper precautions were taken beforehand.
So, before you purchase your next healthcare coverage plan, here are a few things that you might want to consider:
1. Premium Costs
When it comes to healthcare coverage, one of the first noticeable expenses for the average consumer is the cost of the monthly premium or the amount per month that the plan costs without deductibles or treatment costs. The cost of monthly premiums ranges from $150 to $1,000+ depending on your plan, coverage, and the number of people attached to the plan. It’s important to consider that the reason monthly premiums are priced the way they are may have something to do with the plan’s annual deductible or other out-of-pocket expenses; and although paying more per month may be more difficult short term, spending more per month can save you hundreds or even thousands if a severe medical need occurred.
2. Out-of-Pocket Costs
Annual deductibles are some of the most substantial out-of-pocket costs for healthcare consumers in the United States. Deductibles are the amount a healthcare coverage member owes before their coverage begins to make payments and typically ranges between $1,000 and $10,000. So, if the cost of your monthly premium is low, you could be looking at $10,000 in medical expenses you owe before your coverage would start paying the price of your medical treatments. Likewise, those who spend more per month will owe less before their coverage begins in the event they ever needed to use it.
Other out-of-pocket costs that vary from plan to plan are factors like copay’s, out-of-network fees, and drug prices; all of which can vary in cost depending on your monthly premium.
3. Drug Prices
Some coverage options offer prescription drug benefits or discounts to ease the consumers out of pocket expenses. These prices can be previously set by the plan, with some options charge a fixed amount for generic and name brand prescriptions, while other offer moderate discounts, and some don’t offer prescription assistance at all.
4. Network Size
Although not directly tied to a consumer’s money, the size of your plan’s network can have a significant effect on your ability to receive treatment when you need it most with some plans only allowing members to visit certain doctors in an area. And although most plans offer a wider range of treatment options from physicians, hospitals, retail clinics, and urgent care centers, those who aren’t careful about the facility they receive treatment from could accumulate thousands of dollars in medical expenses from accidentally receiving treatment from an out-of-network provider; leaving the member wondering why they paid for coverage in the first place.
5. Other Benefits
And finally, other things to consider before landing on the correct healthcare plan for you and your family are some of the extra benefits. Some plans will not feature as many added benefits as others, but some added features to be aware of are telemedicine services, member support, medical concierge, and mobile app accessibility. Having these features, although not necessary, may come as a bonus to your plan by offering new ways for you to conveniently access you coverage on the go.
So, before you choose you or your family’s next healthcare coverage, make sure to look at the complete picture. Take in the monthly costs, out-of-pocket expenses, size of the network, prescription benefits, and anything else the plan may have to offer into account before making your choice. Taking the time to do so could save you a lot in the long run.
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