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Shopping around for health insurance

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The cost of health insurance is projected to increase, leaving many families and individuals scrambling to figure out how to pay for it. While affordable health insurance can be hard to find, it makes sense for everyone to re-evaluate how much they are spending on this area of their budget at least once a year.

Major medical insurance is probably one of the most complicated financial products that a typical American household purchases. As rules and terms on the policies change, the price of the policy changes, and the personal healthcare needs of everyone in the household should be considered when they are evaluating their health insurance options.

Terms on health insurance policies change at least once a year, if not more frequently. Start by reading through the terms of your current policy and noting any changes. Pay attention to the list of in-network providers, since these can change frequently. If your doctor is not listed, it may be time to select a new policy.

Next, look at the cost of the policies that are available to you. While some policies may not change their rates at all, other policies will pass on higher costs to their customers by increasing premiums, increasing deductibles, and/or increasing the amount of co-payments. Of course, comparing all of these factors over several policies can get complicated, so it may be a good idea to make your own spreadsheet in order to evaluate all of the policies together.

Finally, consider the healthcare needs of your household. Even if your household is usually in good health, think about the upcoming events of the next year and what healthcare needs they may have. For example, if you have small children who are starting sports, it may be time to increase emergency room coverage. If you’re considering expanding your family, then add maternity coverage and increase your hospitalization coverage. In the same way, if you are done having kids, you might be able to save money by dropping maternity coverage. Also think about scheduling surgeries or other elective procedures.

By considering your healthcare needs along with the changes in your current policy and other policies being offered, it may be possible to get better healthcare coverage and/or decrease the amount that you are paying. If you choose to go with a higher deductible or co-payment on your policy, make sure that you have enough in savings to cover a sudden emergency.

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