Asking the Right Questions is Vital
As an entrepreneur, you know that getting the most of your time and money often starts with asking yourself the right questions.
What was the first question you asked yourself when starting your new business? Was it about funding? Marketing? Maybe you asked yourself how to meet a specific consumer need in a way that no one else could.
If you want to find the right health insurance plan for your needs and budget, you’re also going to have to ask yourself the right questions. Consider the following questions when reviewing your health insurance options.
1. “Who will be covered under this plan?”
It may sound like a dumb question. You probably want to cover yourself and your dependents. But ask yourself: does anyone in your family have other coverage options? If you really can’t afford to cover everyone, who needs coverage most, and why? You may actually be able to save money by covering different members of your family separately under two or more plans.
2. “Do you maintain a savings or do you live paycheck to paycheck?”
If you don’t maintain a cushion of funds in the bank, you may want a health plan with a low deductible, or none at all (like some HMOs). If you do keep a savings and can afford a higher deductible if necessary, you may be able to find a plan with lower monthly premiums.
In most states, self-employed persons buying health insurance on their own need to purchase individual and family plans, however…
3. “How often did you visit the doctor last year?”
If you visit the doctor regularly, it may make sense to pay a higher monthly premium in order to keep your office visit copayment and deductible low. If you rarely visit the doctor, maybe you don’t need robust coverage for preventive care.
4. “How much did you spend on health care last year?”
If you spend a lot on health care, it’s important to know what you spend it on and if you expect to spend at the same pace. If these are recurring costs (for prescription drugs, for example), make sure that the plan you select covers these services. If you don’t spend much on health care, then you could save money with a plan that provides less generous coverage for office visits or prescription drugs.
5. “Do you have any pre-existing medical conditions?”
Some pre-existing medical conditions (like heart disease, cancer, or diabetes) can make it difficult to get approved for individual and family coverage. But not all pre-existing conditions result in a decline. Work with a licensed agent in your area or online (like eHealthInsurance) to learn which insurers may be more likely to offer you coverage.
6. “Are you eligible for group health insurance coverage?”
In most states, self-employed persons buying health insurance on their own need to purchase individual and family plans. However, some states allow persons with business licenses to purchase small business/group plans, even without employees. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, a small business plan may be a better option, since with group coverage you can’t be turned down for coverage. Find out if you qualify for group health insurance by contacting your state Department of Insurance.
7. “Are any specific benefits necessary or irrelevant?”
If you’re a regular user of prescription medication, make sure you find a plan that covers prescriptions at a co-payment you can afford. If it’s possible you or your spouse could become pregnant, pay close attention to maternity benefits too. If you don’t need a plan that covers prescription drugs or maternity benefits, you could save money.