Shopping For California Health Insurance? Here Are A Few Tips

Shopping for health insurance in California is often confusing and a bit stressful. After all, you will have the policy for at least a year after enrollment and mistakes can cost you a bundle of money if the coverage isn’t quite what you thought it would be. Below are a few tips to remember when you are looking for health insurance this open enrollment period.

Enrollment Periods

You must shop for new health insurance coverage during the open enrollment period, which is November 1, 2016 through January 31, 2017. During this time, you can switch companies or apply for new coverage. Certain types of insurance can be bought outside of the open enrollment period, such as Medicaid or insurance to cover you in the short term.

Minimum Essential Coverage

Under the Affordable Care Act, you must buy a policy with minimum essential coverage or MEC . Failure to do this may subject you to a yearly fee. While there are a few situations that may allow you to be exempt from this fee, you must keep continuous coverage or it will apply.

Shop Around

Shopping around with several different insurance companies is the key to getting the best deal possible. Not all insurance companies have the same prices and you may pay more if you buy the first policy you review. Some of the different types of costs with insurance policies include:

  • Premiums

The price you pay upfront each month to be covered by insurance.

  • Deductible

The amount of money you must pay out of your pocket to use your healthcare plan. This fee is in addition to your monthly premiums.

  • Co-Pay

Co-pays are fees you must pay outside of your deductible. These fees usually apply when you see your primary care doctor or a specialist. Co-pays may vary depending on the type of provider you need to see.

  • Maximum

Your out-of-pocket maximum is the most you will pay to use your health insurance for the coverage period. Once you hit the maximum limit, your health insurance company must pay 100 percent until the coverage period is over.

Pre-existing Conditions

If you know someone in your family has a pre-existing condition or is sick and will need healthcare that will be expensive, you need to shop a bit differently. Choose a health insurance plan that has the lowest out-of-pocket maximum possible. Be sure the services you need most will be covered under the plan before you purchase the policy.

Your Deductible Matters

Choosing a healthcare plan with a very high deductible may keep your monthly premium payments low. However, this could cost you big time if you need emergency treatment. You might be required to pay the entire out-of-pocket maximum at once in this scenario.

Buying health insurance does not have to be stressful, but taking the time to do your research will save you money. Having a health insurance plan you can trust will give you peace of mind, knowing that you and your family will be covered when you need it.