Buying health insurance online? You need to know the “Dos and Do Nots” so that you are able to purchase the best medical insurance at the lowest cost from the top available companies. You can pay less for your healthcare benefits by following some basic guidelines. We show you how easy it is to find and compare quality policies from the most respected providers and get the best prices in your state’s Exchange or Marketplace. Non-Obamacare plans with lower prices are also offered in every state, and are not subject to Open Enrollment deadlines.
Don’t give anybody your credit card, checking account, or other sensitive financial data over the phone. Most insurers do NOT require you to provide those details during the quoting process. Once you are approved, and you have received written confirmation, it is acceptable to provide financial data. If you are enrolling for a specific plan (on or off Marketplace), it is possible that your social security number will be needed, along with household income, dependent dates of birth, nicotine usage, and employer information to calculate your federal subsidy eligibility.
It is also a good idea to request a copy of your application for your records. You can also ask for a copy of any underwriting information that was used to issue your policy (medically-underwritten plans only). A copy of your enrollment form should always be in your personal file. NOTE: Medical information is not needed for Exchange plans. And generally, you are not required to pay the initial premium since it is due January 1 (and sometimes later). However, if the policy lapses beyond the grace period, you may be required to wait until the next Open Enrollment period to apply for similar coverage.
Do ask for help from a live experienced agent when you visit a website. You’ll be shown plan information from approximately 3-16 companies, depending on the state where you reside. For instance, Wisconsin and New York lead the nation with the number of participating Marketplace carriers with 12. California is next with 11, followed by Ohio with 9. Conversely, Alaska, Delaware, Mississippi, Nebraska, and Wyoming have only one carrier.
Of course, there are hundreds of variations in coverage. If the site is reliable, a live licensed person should be able to pinpoint some of the best plan options. They can also advise you what companies are not competitive in the year you are obtaining coverage. You can also ask them if they are registered with the “Better Business Bureau.” Our website, of course, will provide personalized rates when requested. We explain specifics over the phone or email a PDF file that provides the information in writing. Large booklets are no longer sent through the mail.
Don’t forget to obtain your medical coverage during Open Enrollment. If you forget, regardless if you have impeccable health or are being treated for a terminal illness, you’ll have to wait until November to enroll. Exceptions are made if you qualify for Medicaid, Medicare, or a “Special Enrollment Period.” You can also apply for non-Obamacare coverage. The cost of coverage may be less, but benefits in several areas may be limited. A large hospital bill can result in substantial out-of-pocket expenses.
Do check the Company Network of available doctors, specialists, hospitals and other health care providers. Having a great insurance plan won’t help you if you can’t use the providers you are accustomed to using. Buying a policy on your own means these items will have to be verified. If you intend to travel to different states, a national company may be a better choice than a smaller local company. Important: Provider networks can change annually, so before you sign up for a new plan, or renew an existing policy, verify that your providers are still part of the Network.
Don’t terminate your current medical plan…and THEN go shopping online for new coverage. What happens if you are inexplicably declined because you missed Open Enrollment and applied for short-term coverage? Now what? Oh…you don’t want to know. You may have a grace period you can use for additional flexibility.
Do utilize our wonderful website. The quotes are free. The constantly updated healthcare reform information is free. The company reviews are free. When state Exchanges are set up, we became your primary resource. But sorry. We don’t give out free coffee. Just unbiased information and low rates!
Don’t buy expensive riders if you don’t need them. If you aren’t going to use vision benefits, then you don’t need the rider. If you don’t need any additional life insurance, don’t sign up for a term life rider. And if you already have dental benefits, don’t pay for additional dental coverage. Same with accidental death. There is no reason to duplicate benefits.
However, it is true that after 2014, you were be forced to include many of these coverages on your policy. Although each State Exchange is different, a set of “Essential Health Benefits” must be included on all policies. And maternity is one of them. NOTE: Pediatric dental (under age 19) is automatically included on all Marketplace plans.
You may also may be eligible for a federal healthcare tax subsidy. We’ll show you how you qualify, and how much money you could potentially save on your premiums. Once your quote request is received, we’ll calculate your savings.
Don’t be lured into purchasing a “Discount Plan.” Often advertised as affordable coverage…quite simply, they are not! Usually there is an application fee (which you NEVER should pay when you are applying for a policy), very vague description of benefits and pressure for you to buy before a “deadline” ends. Folks…stay away from these offers. They really are as bad as we describe them as. There’s more “fine print” than benefits, and hour of frustration waiting for you.
Do take the time to look over your policy after it has been approved and sent to you. Do you have enough ID cards? Is the premium correct? Is the effective date what you requested? Are all persons to be insured listed separately on the policy? Is your checking account or credit card being billed in the correct manner? Have you canceled any previous plans that my be duplicating benefits?
Do make certain that if you are over age 65, that the website specializes in Medicare Supplement and Advantage plans and recommendations. These types of policies are much different than conventional private contracts. The internet will provide some additional information. But make certain you’re visiting a reputable website. Obviously, we feel ours is in that category, since we write all of our content and speaking to a live person is always possible.
Don’t expect pre-existing conditions to be covered if you are applying for “short-term” coverage. Typically, you may have to wait about a year before any conditions/medications you have will be covered. During that time, try to keep you current policy in force, and of course, continue to get treatment for any conditions you have, even if it means paying for the expenses yourself. At some point, those prior conditions can be covered by applying and enrolling in an on or off-Marketplace policy.
After 2014, all medical questions were eliminated from Exchange applications. But you must apply during Open Enrollment, which generally occurs between November and February. If you miss it, there are some exceptions that will allow you to purchase a policy during a “non” Open Enrollment period.
Do utilize your free preventive coverage that is provided by comprehensive and catastrophic plans. Routine annual physicals, mammograms and child well-check visits are just three of many available benefits. Not only are they free but there is no waiting period. As you get older, more free preventive features are included on policies. Many diagnostic tests, x-rays, and medications are covered.
Don’t spend any money when you buy online. If a website wants to charge you money or insists that you “try out a new product” before showing you quotes, then leave that web page immediately. And don’t come back. In fact, here’s a Top-10 list that might help you. Instead of purchasing a “Buying Health Insurance For Dummies” book, just read the articles on this website and apply for a policy here!
Buying a medical plan doesn’t have to be difficult. Simply follow some simple guidelines, provide some basic information for a free quote and you’re on the way! We help you do the shopping so you get the best rates.