Health insurance is a major purchase. Depending on your location, health, age, family status, income and other factors, you could pay as little as nothing or as much as thousands of dollars a year for coverage. But no matter how much you pay in premiums, you obviously want to choose a medical insurance policy that meets your family’s needs. Find out below how insurance agents can help you score an affordable plan that best works for your personal needs or those of your family.
What Benefits Does Working With Insurance Agents Offer?
When you work with an agent, you’re relieved of one of the major burdens of shopping for an insurance plan: research. By working with a partner who knows the market and has done a lot of the research already, you will find yourself with information in hand from the moment the process begins — not to mention someone to point you in the direction of more, should you want it.
An agent is also experienced at parsing the plans in a marketplace given a set of facts about you, such as your age, budget and family status. That means that they can quickly show you which plans are “best” given your particular circumstances and explain why other plans might not be an ideal choice for you. That reduces how much time you have to spend poring over health insurance details, which can seem abstract and frustrating without context.
Agencies have usually already done the work to compare similar plans, so they can quickly present you with accurate side-by-side evaluations. For example, they might be able to tell you which common services are covered under each plan, what the deductible is and how much the out-of-pocket (OOP) maximums might be. That’s all-important, especially since you can’t base the affordability of an insurance plan on the monthly premium alone. You need to know how much in total your health care might cost this calendar year.
Finally, third-party insurance agents can offer some unbiased professional advice. They don’t work for the actual insurance companies, so they aren’t trying to sell you a specific product. They’re trying to help you make an informed decision that you’ll be satisfied with because they want you to return to them in the future.
Do I Pay More If I Use Agents?
No. Whether you use an agent or not, the premium for your health insurance plan is exactly the same. Well, with one exception: if you use an agent, you might find a less expensive plan than you would alone.
How Can Agents Help Me Get the Best Deal on Health Insurance?
Agents don’t have a secret handshake or special access to plans that others don’t. But their knowledge can help you dig more efficiently and accurately through the massive pile of data that comes with health insurance shopping.
The process, at its most basic level, goes like this: You give the agent information including your age, zip code, number of family members, basic health history and whether or not anyone uses tobacco. They use that information to analyze all the available plans and present your options in an easy-to-understand format.
When you can easily see how much each plan costs, what it includes and what your total costs might be given deductibles and out-of-pockets, you can pick a health insurance plan that is most cost-effective for you. And while you’re doing all that, you can turn to your agent with any questions.
How Do I Find a Reputable Agent?
Make sure you’re working with a licensed insurance agent with experience and knowledge in the health insurance field. Some red flags that you’re not working with a reputable agent can include:
- They’re pushy and try to get you to sign on the dotted line immediately; they use urgent language; or they refer to a plan as a “deal” or an offer that “expires tomorrow.” In the insurance game, the only time-sensitive dates are those that relate to open enrollment each year. And even then, you generally have all of November and part of December to make your decisions.
- They ask for payment for services before you even decide on a plan. Insurance agents don’t get paid by their clients in this way.
- They favor a plan without any reason. Insurance agents can give you advice, such as telling you that certain plans don’t offer something you said you wanted or reminding you that the budget you stated doesn’t fit the premiums of one option. But if they simply try to push a specific product on you without getting to know your preferences and talking about the options, they may not be the right agent for you.
How Can I Best Partner With an Insurance Agent to Meet My Health Insurance Needs?
While a health care insurance agent can be a great help in finding the coverage you need, they can’t make all the decisions for you. Only you know what is right for you, which means you need to be an active participant in your insurance search. Here are a few tips for partnering with your agent so you end up with a health insurance policy you are happy with and can afford.
- Find out whether the plans are ACA-compliant. In some cases, a short-term insurance plan might be right for you, especially if you’ve missed open enrollment periods. But those plans aren’t ACA-compliant and don’t cover everything required under the ACA. Make sure you know what you’re purchasing.
- Ask the agent to help you understand if you can get a tax credit. Many people have access to a tax credit — a subsidy to help pay for their insurance premiums. Your agent will need information about your income in order to determine whether you’re eligible, so you’ll have to provide accurate information to get an answer.
- Discuss out-of-pocket maximums and other details before choosing a plan. Factors such as OOP maximum and deductibles drastically contribute to the overall potential cost of your health care in a year. If you’re not sure about these factors or how they compare between plans, ask the insurance agent to walk you through with examples. You can also ask “How much do I have to pay before the insurance starts to pay?” The answer to this question lets you know whether a plan might be too risky for you, even if the premium is low.
- Find out about the benefits under the plan. Before you finalize a health insurance purchase, make sure you understand the benefits. Ask the agent what medications are covered — or at least verify that your regular meds are included under the plan’s coverage. This is also a good time to ensure the plan will allow you to continue seeing your regular providers.
By working with an insurance agent, you can take much of the stress and second-guessing out of the health insurance enrollment process. Whether you’re looking for an ACA-compliant Marketplace plan or short-term medical insurance, start the process with professional assistance by contacting TrueCoverage today.