Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Americans have more health insurance options than ever before. No matter where you live or your personal situation, there’s a plan available to help you afford health coverage. But with so many different options and costs, keeping your health insurance healthy and effective can feel like a challenge.
This guide will walk you through the key elements you need to know to keep your health insurance healthy and effective. Whether you’re looking to switch plans or maintain continuity from year to year, keeping your coverage on track requires a mix of common-sense maintenance and strategic planning. Keep reading for essential tips on keeping your health insurance in good working order.
Make your health plan work for you
Health insurance is a tool to help you access medical care, not the goal in and of itself. You can make your health plan work for you by following these tips:
Find the right plan for you – Before you sign up, compare the pros and cons of different plans to find the one that best fits your needs.
Shop around – Once you’ve found a plan that works for you, take advantage of health care marketplaces and broker websites to compare premiums and out-of-pocket costs across providers.
Max out your coverage – Make sure you’re getting the most out of your plan by visiting your doctor, keeping up with your prescription medications, and staying on schedule with regular check-ups.
Communicate with your health plan
Health plans are generally pretty patient focused. They want to make sure they have your medical information and history from your previous providers. They’ll often wait a month or two before sending you a bill for the full amount. But once you’ve been on a plan for a while, you may start to get letters and calls from your insurance company asking you to confirm your information and pay your bill.
If you get a bill you don’t recognize, or you get a call or letter you weren’t expecting, follow these tips to stay on top of your health insurance communications:
Keep your eyes on your inbox – Most health insurance companies have emails and phone numbers listed on their websites. Make sure you’re checking your inbox (and spam folders) regularly so you don’t miss any communications from your insurer.
Be responsive – Don’t ignore or late payments on your part. If you get a bill you don’t understand or can’t pay, contact your insurer right away to set up a payment plan.
Keep good records – You’ll want to keep track of your communications with your insurer so you don’t miss anything important. Keep copies of all your communications in a cloud-based file (like Dropbox) so you can access them whenever you need to track something down.
Keep in mind that your insurer may contact you for reasons other than just trying to collect a debt. You may get a reminder about a payment due or a question that’s completely unrelated to your past owing. Try to put these “junk mail” insurance communications out of your mind and focus on the reasons your insurer is contacting you in the first place.
Have a seat at the table
Health insurance is a complicated and ever-changing industry. That means you need to be involved in the process, but you also need to be careful not to be taken advantage of.
Health insurance companies are supposed to provide you with a plan that covers your medical needs and expenses. But they also make money by getting more customers, so they’re always trying to find new ways to drive you towards their plan. They may even alter your coverage from year to year, so it’s critical that you remain engaged and informed throughout the whole process.
If you want to make sure your voice is heard, ask yourself these questions before you meet with your insurance company:
What do I want? – Write down what’s important to you and your family, and bring that list with you to the meeting.
How do I want it? – Make sure you’re asking for what you want and not just showing up to be polite.
Why do I want it? – Don’t just complain about how expensive health insurance is; explain why you need it and how it would help your family.
Keep in mind that you can also file a complaint with your state’s insurance department (if your state has one) if you aren’t satisfied with how your insurance company is handling your situation.