How to Compare Individual Health Insurance Plans

1.

Consider your current health situation. Consider how often you usually need medical services, your pre-existing medical conditions and how often you take prescription medication. Decide how much freedom you need when selecting a doctor. All of these factors will help you determine which plan is best suited for your needs.

2.

Understand the various types of plans. The different models of health coverage include, point of service plan (POS), a preferred provider plan (PPO) and the health maintenance organization (HMO). Each type of plan has different guidelines for individual coverage and different restrictions. For example, if you choose an HMO, your doctor must be a member of the particular HMO network you are in.

3.

Check the list of providers for all the plans you are comparing. If you select an HMO and will need to pick a doctor in a specific network, review your options. You may find your current doctor is in one of the plans you are comparing.

4.

Review co-pays and maximum out of pocket expenses. Most individual health insurance plans will have a co-pay for services such as office visits. Most plans also have a maximum amount the insured will be charged for certain services. For example, an inpatient hospital stay may have a $200 co-pay a night, but may include a maximum amount you will have to pay, regardless of length of stay.

5.

Look into wellness and preventative medicine incentives. Some individual health insurance plans will offer discounts to fitness centers or pay for educational classes, such as smoking cessation.

6.

Compare coverage for alternative medicine. Some health insurance plans will cover treatments such as acupressure or a visit to a chiropractor. Not all plans cover all types of alternative treatments.

Tips and Warnings

  • Be aware of the cap on benefits. Most plans will have an annual amount which the insurance company will cover. If you have a chronic health problem, this may be an important issue to consider when selecting health insurance.
  • Selecting an individual health insurance plan can be confusing. There are a few different types of insurance plans and variations within each plan. Certain types of plans may limit an individual's option in selecting a personal physician. Cost may also be a concern. Since changing heath insurance plans may force a change in physicians, it's important to make an informed decision when initially choosing a plan. Comparing various types of individual health insurance plans is the first step to secure a plan that is right for you.