Buying Low Cost Health Insurance

by : Ryan Patterson

Finding the right low cost health insurance is hard work; but rewarding if done with some professional input. Having guidelines from sources like will help you streamline the process. So will a good checklist.

By doing a bit of homework, you can save hundreds, even thousands, of dollars each year in premiums, as well as in general health care costs or procedures that you thought were coveredonly to learn, after the fact, they were not.

First things first:

Insurance shopping begins with how much you can afford to pay for monthly (or quarterly, or even annual) insurance premiums. Next, determine what your medical needs actually are. Do you have a family? Do you need regular or preventive medical care? Do you only want a major medical policy, which has high deductibles but covers medical emergencies and surgeries? If you're generally in good health and relatively young (under 50), the best option is usually the latterhigh deductible health insurance and a lower premium.

Once you've taken stock of those things, find a regional or local insurance broker who can advise you on specific plans offered by different companiesor begin your general research online. Check out your potential insurers' reputations by plugging their names into Web sites like A.M. Best Company's ( or Moody's Investors Service ( Any existing complaints filed against an insurance companysuch as refusal to pay claims or illegally dropping a clientshould be reported on Web sites like Best or Moody's.

Now, use this checklist to figure out the exact details of the type of policy you need.

Do you require?

* prescription coverage
* immunization
* emergency room visits/emergency care
* annual check-ups or physicals
* maternity coverage and/or "well" childcare
* regular doctor visits
* dependent coverage/home health care
* specialist coverage for vision, dental, speech, mental health, home care, surgeries, etc.

Also consider these overall questions before signing on the dotted line:

* Is there a waiting period for pre-existing conditions?
* Is your current physician on the plan's provider network?
* Where are the nearest hospitals you can visit with your plan?
* Is there a wide selection of primary care physicians and specialists?

Other key monetary questions are:

* What will your out-of-pocket expenses be for prescriptions, special testing and diagnostic procedures, preventive care, or for general doctor visits?
* How many doctor visits is each insured person allowed per year, quarter, or even per month, as some insurance companies specify?
* What is the policy's ceiling on out-of-pocket expenses for major operations and other serious (and pricey) medical procedures? In other words, what is the maximum you will have to pay, out-of-pocket, on a particular procedure?

Final note:

All of this is tricky, so get very detailed information from your agent or broker AND from an objective source (a third party non-insurance company sponsored Web site). What you don't understand or are unsure of can hurt you.

Armed with the proper information, you can find a family health insurance plan to protect you and your family. It's best to spend the extra time researchingand don't be afraid to ask "stupid" questions. When it comes to your and your family's health care, there are NO stupid questions!