Health Care Plans

Written by Charles Peacock
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Obtaining a good health care plan for yourself or your family can be a difficult road to navigate. A lot of people are unfamiliar with the terminology and coverages of even the simplest health care plans, and choosing a plan without knowing all of the ins and outs can lead to surprise medical bills down the road. The best way to prepare yourself when choosing a health care plan is to familiarize yourself with the basics of the health insurance system.

Health Insurance Basics

The first thing to consider when choosing a health care plan is the premium. The premium is the amount that you pay to the insurer each month (or year) to maintain coverage. Premiums vary greatly, and as a general rule they are directly proportional to the type of coverage you're getting--if your premium is extremely cheap, your plan probably does not offer a lot of coverage.

Co-pays are the next important aspect of health insurance plans. The majority of health care visits consist of a simple consultation at the doctor's office. Insurers recognize this, and they usually offer free consultations with a doctor--or they charge a small co-pay for each visit. If you don't mind a small co-pay (usually less than 50 dollars per visit), you'll have an easier time finding a smaller monthly premium.

The last thing to consider with your potential health care plan is how the plan handles other (usually larger) medical expenses like inpatient and outpatient surgery, emergency room visits, and prescription drugs. A lot of plans have a pre-set deductible, requiring you to pay this deductible before the insurance kicks in. Deductibles are usually in the thousands of dollars, so it's important to pay close attention to exactly what the insurer is going to be paying before you jump for a cheap plan.

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