Considering how important having access to medical care is, it sometimes seems like it’s all too complicated to buy health insurance. Between confusing technical terms, contradictory advice and gaps in the information provided online, feeling confident that you’re getting the health care you need can be tricky.
This is especially true of supplemental health insurance, since it works a little differently from traditional health care plans. A supplemental insurance plan can — as the name implies — supplement your insurance, filling gaps in your coverage and covering out-of-pocket costs that your regular health plan might not. Supplemental plans tend to be much less expensive than full health plans, and they come in several flavors, including critical illness, fixed indemnity and short-term insurance, among others.
If you’re reevaluating your health care options or getting health insurance for the first time, consider the following three steps a map for navigating the supplemental health care maze.
Step 1: Understand Your Options
Before you crack open your wallet and buy a plan, decide what you want from a supplemental plan and see whether any options fit your needs. For example, ask yourself what would offer you the most peace of mind if it were covered. Maybe you’re concerned about the high costs of cancer treatments, or your new job has a long driving commute and you want to cover your bases in case of a collision. Or maybe you have a more immediate need, like maintaining inexpensive coverage between jobs.
Supplemental plans can offer an extra level of protection in case something goes wrong, but no one plan is a catch-all. Evaluate your options carefully to see if one plan works for you — you might even want to combine plans to get the coverage you need.
Step 2: Contact Your Employer
Once you’re confident a supplemental plan will benefit you, check with your employer to see if they offer it. Going this route might be cheaper than buying a plan on your own, as some employers may help cover costs.
It can also be beneficial to buy supplemental insurance from your primary insurance carrier, since this helps connect the plans clinically and can ease the claims process. And your employer may have access to special resources, or at least experience answering common questions.
Step 3: Get Some Quotes
If your employer doesn’t offer the supplemental coverage you’re looking for, you’ll want to buy a plan independently. Struggling with your options or with the process in general? Consider working with an independent health insurance broker who specializes in supplemental plans. Once you find a broker, tell them what type of plan you’re looking for and what kind of premium you’re willing to pay. Ask about the plan’s deductible and the out-of-pocket caps, if any.
If, on the other hand, you’re confident you can continue on without a broker, don’t doubt yourself! Health insurance providers’ websites can be complicated, but if you’ve done your research, you’ll be able to pick and purchase a plan with confidence.
The choice to buy health insurance isn’t a small one, and supplemental insurance is no exception. Stay informed, make smart choices for your individual situation and don’t be afraid to look back over these guidelines if you lose your way.