How to Choose a Health Insurance Plan for Your Family
When searching for health insurance plans for family members, you’ll quickly realize that there are a seemingly endless number of options out there. While it’s great to have your pick, all these options make it difficult to select medical insurance for family members and yourself.
Even so, you must obtain family health insurance for yourself and your loved ones. Otherwise, you might not be able to afford the necessary care in the event of a serious illness or injury.
While sorting through family insurance plans in search of the ideal policy for your loved ones might seem daunting, there is good news: you can find a great family health insurance policy that meets your needs and budget by following a few simple steps.
Importance of Medical Insurance for Family Members
Before we shift our attention to how to choose the best family health insurance policy for your loved ones, it’s important to understand why family insurance plans are so important in the first place.
Over the last few decades, healthcare costs have risen tremendously and show no signs of slowing down. While modern treatments are effective at addressing lifestyle-related diseases, chronic conditions, and unexpected injuries, these interventions are often expensive.
Even a “simple” emergency room visit can cost a few thousand dollars. And this figure doesn’t even include testing or treatment — just the room, brief interactions with a physician and nursing staff, and basic care expenses.
If you or your loved ones aren’t covered by family health insurance, you could be stuck covering these expenses out-of-pocket. Doing so could put you in a serious financial bind, undermining your long-term goals and placing undue stress on your household.
Family health insurance plans will cover a large percentage of the costs associated with medical emergencies, routine care, and hospitalization. Depending on your chosen plan, you may incur little to no out-of-pocket expense.
Do You Need Separate Health Insurance Plans for Family Members?
No, you don’t need separate health insurance plans for each family member. Instead, you can obtain a health insurance policy that covers you and everyone else in your household. These policies are typically referred to as “family floater” plans.
When obtaining a family floater policy, you designate one individual (typically yourself) as the policyholder. You can then add eligible family members to the policy, including:
Naturally, the more people you add to your policy, the higher your premium costs will be. With that being said, a family floater policy is still more affordable than obtaining individual plans for each of your loved ones.
Follow These 7 Steps When Selecting Family Health Insurance
To simplify the process of choosing a health insurance plan for your family, we recommend taking the following steps:
1. Determine What Type of Policy You Need
Generally speaking, a family floater policy will be the more affordable option for your health insurance needs. This is particularly true if all of your family members are in relatively good health and don’t suffer from any serious medical conditions.
However, let’s say that one of your family members has a pre-existing condition that requires frequent care throughout the year, while the rest of your family is in good health.
In this scenario, you might need to obtain an individual policy for the family member with the pre-existing condition. You could select a more robust policy that provides better coverage but higher premiums and choose a more affordable policy for you and your other loved ones.
Once you’ve determined if you’ll need a single policy or several, you can start your search.
2. Check Coverage Limits
The next step on your to-do list is to check coverage limits. These limits reveal precisely how much your policy will cover in a worst-case scenario. While most policies have extensive coverage limits, some more affordable options have lower thresholds.
With that in mind, it’s important to choose a policy that has a high enough limit to cover serious injuries or illnesses. If your medical expenses exceed established limits, you may be required to cover the difference.
3. Consider Your Premium and Deductible Amounts
Your premium is the monthly insurance payment you must pay to keep your policy active, while your deductible is the out-of-pocket cost you pay when using your coverage. Once you meet your deductible, your policy will cover 100% of eligible medical expenses up to your coverage limit.
Typically, you won’t pay your deductible outright when seeking medical care. Instead, you’ll pay 20% of the total expenses and your insurer will cover 80%.
For example, imagine you incur a $1,000 medical bill and haven’t met your deductible. In this scenario, you’d pay $200 and your insurer would cover $800.
As a rule, your premium and deductible amounts will be inversely related — if you have a higher premium, your deductible will be lower and vice versa. Opting for a lower deductible can help you save money upfront, but you may end up paying more in the long run if you have to use your coverage for major medical expenses.
4. Look for Plans with Comprehensive Benefits
Comprehensive benefits cover specific conditions or health incidents. One of the most common types of comprehensive plan benefits is maternity benefits. If you and your spouse plan on having a child in the near future, you’ll need a plan with maternity benefits.
The exact maternity benefits your plan provides will vary. However, this portion of your plan might include a decreased deductible for maternity-related expenses or other coverages designed to offset the out-of-pocket costs associated with having a child.
5. Select Your Coverage Riders
A coverage rider is like an “add-on” that provides a unique benefit. Riders will raise your premium slightly but provide particular coverages to help you deal with unexpected life events.
A few examples of riders include critical illness coverage, personal accident insurance, and hospital daily cash benefits. When comparing coverages, consider adding on riders to better protect you and your family in the event of a major health incident.
6. Review the Network Size and Scope
You’ll need to stay within your network to avoid incurring additional costs when using your health insurance coverage.
An insurance network is a group of providers that have agreed to accept an insurer’s policy. Insurance companies form these networks to negotiate discounted service rates and reduce the costs of covering your medical expenses.
Before selecting a policy, compare the network size and scope of a few different plans. Ideally, you want to choose a policy with a large network that includes a variety of physicians in your area.
While some insurers might have big networks, they may have few options where you live, making it difficult to find a provider for you and your loved ones.
7. Choose a Plan
Once you’ve found a few plans that provide adequate coverage limits, fit your budget, and offer access to a good network of care providers, it’s time to choose a policy for your family.
When making your final decision, carefully review the information highlighted above to ensure that the policy is the right fit for your household.
Make Sure Your Family’s Health Is in Good Hands
Using the steps outlined above, you can streamline the process of finding and obtaining a family health insurance plan. If you need additional support, consider connecting with a health insurance broker. One of these professionals can help you navigate the family health insurance marketplace and connect you with an ideal plan.
While the process can be challenging, it’s important to be patient and diligent, as finding the right coverage is essential for protecting your financial and physical health.