Are you an adult shopping for your own health insurance for the first time? The maze of policies, plans, deductibles, and co-pays can be confusing even for seasoned veterans and those who work in the industry, but it can seem impossible to navigate for newbies. Whether you’re aging out of your parents’ coverage or have never been insured before, here are four essential tools that can help you shop for health insurance.
Do you qualify for a plan under the Affordable Care Act? The health insurance marketplace is your number one resource for choosing and enrolling in a plan. Many states have their own marketplaces, or you can use healthcare.gov, the website for the federal marketplace. Through the online marketplace, you can apply for subsidies, see if you qualify for Medicaid, compare all the plans available, and enroll in both health and dental coverage.
If you are buying insurance on the private market, an insurance agent is the best person to help you sort through the wide variety of plans and choose the best option for you. An agent can help you find the best optimized health plans with more coverage and lower premiums. Insurance agents provide their services at no cost in hopes that you will purchase a plan through them, and most agencies offer free quotes.
Health Insurance Navigator
Another person who can help you explore and choose a policy for free is a health insurance navigator. Navigators are not licensed insurance agents, but they are trained through the Affordable Care Act’s navigator program. Unlike insurance agents, a health insurance navigator can also help you enroll in Medicaid or CHIP.
Do you need to research a specific aspect of a plan’s coverage, such as whether your medication or a particular procedure is covered? A plan book from the insurance company is your best resource for comprehensive information about a particular plan. You can obtain plan books from an insurance agency, or go to the company’s website and order one. You will also get a plan book for your policy in the mail after you enroll.
Although navigating the health insurance market is a difficult task, it’s important not to give up and go without insurance. The uninsured face many risks, such as getting slammed with high medical bills, foregoing important preventative care and extra state tax penalties. Unpaid medical bills can lead to ruined credit and difficulty accessing care in the future.