Growing up has a few advantages, but it can also feel overwhelming sometimes. While you navigate student loans and learn how to rent an apartment, you also have to jump into the world of insurance. Use these eight health insurance tips designed for young people so you get the coverage you need.
People don’t often talk about how they decided on their health insurance plan. The process looks a little different depending on your health and financial needs, so make the best decision possible with helpful strategies like these.
1. Investigate Private or Public Plans
There are two main ways to access health insurance — through your employer or the public marketplace. You don’t have to use the plans offered by your employer, but they often come at a discount because federal law requires businesses to help cover a portion of the premiums. Even small companies have to chip in, although they receive a 50% tax credit to offset the costs.
When you get hired as a full-time employee, your company should give you access to their health insurance plans. You’ll only have access to the public marketplace if your employer doesn’t offer insurance or if you work full-time as a contractor.
2. Compare HMO vs. PPO
Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) and Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs) are two of the more common health insurance plans. HMOs require participants to stay in-network to get coverage unless it’s an emergency. Along with paying your monthly premium, you’ll get pros and cons such as:
- Pro: small co-payments
- Pro: low out-of-pocket costs
- Con: specialists aren’t covered without a referral
PPOs don’t require you to stay in-network for coverage, so it’s a better option for anyone who travels frequently. Review different PPOs and keep in mind that they come with things like:
- Pro: you can choose any specialist
- Pro: more flexibility for care and location
- Con: higher monthly premium
If neither of these plans would fit your needs, you can always look into the next two popular health insurance options.
3. Evaluate EPO vs. POS
Exclusive Provider Organizations (EPOs) and Point of Service Plans (POSs) are slightly different. With an EPO, you’ll experience:
- Pro: lower out-of-pocket costs than PPOs
- Pro: no required referrals for specialists
- Con: more limited provider options because of in-network coverage limitations
POS coverage doesn’t require in-network care, but does offer lower rates when you access health services at home. People also find that POS plans include:
- Pro: extensive provider options
- Pro: coverage for any outpatient services
- Con: upfront provider’s fees required outside of network care
These plans all offer different perks that could make a difference depending on how often you need medical assistance and what your health requires.
4. Find In-Network Costs
After you discover either employer-provided or public marketplace plans, check the in-network costs. They’re almost always more affordable than health providers far away from home. You can find this information on each plan’s website.
Look up your preferred providers to see which plans offer the best coverage for checkups or any routine visits you’ll need.
5. Consider Your Health Needs
Many influencing health factors make some health insurance plans look better than others. You might only need annual checkups and generic prescriptions. Middle-aged men will need coverage for colonoscopies and women will require dental care to stay healthy while aging and prevent bacteria-related dementia.
Annual care with your OB-GYN or routine scans related to cancer recovery will all change what you need your health insurance to cover and what fees you’ll pay most often.
6. Prioritize Your Benefits
While you read about the best health insurance tips, make sure you remember to prioritize your benefits. Review plan summaries and circle or highlight what’s most important in your life. You could focus on plans covering your expensive prescriptions or assisting your mental health during stressful financial times.
Even if you sign up for a low-cost plan with your preferred provider, it won’t be useful coverage if it doesn’t assist with your recurring medical needs.
7. Find Available Discounts
The first few fees you see while comparing plans isn’t always what you’ll pay after signing up. Some health insurance companies offer discounts if you open a health savings account (HSA) or if you’re within a specific age range.
Younger people are typically healthier and don’t need to visit the doctor more than once a year. Talk with a health insurance provider about getting a discount for managing your health with nutritious snacks and regular exercise.
They might also offer external discounts after signing, like reduced local gym memberships or access to weight loss programs. You could save money and reach your health goals by investigating all the deals included in health insurance plans.
8. Adjust Your Budget
Your budget drives your purchases and saving plans, so run potential monthly premiums by your current costs. Include things like changes in routine appointment costs or prescription fees. After budgeting for your new health insurance, you’ll learn if it saves money or costs too much while providing too little.
Take Your Time
Using these health insurance tips will make comparing plans and budgeting easier for young people, but you might feel pressured to make a quick decision. Even if your employer needs your answer soon, take your time. Health insurance is a major influencing factor in your life.
Compare your options and adjust your budget according to your potential choices. You’ll find the right plan when you avoid rushing through the process.