Want to Change Health Insurance Plans?
When life happens and situations change, make sure you have a health insurance plan that changes with you. Find out your options, identify the price range you want to work with and the benefits that are most important to you, then, pursue the medical coverage that best matches those objectives.
In general, people choose a policy based on their medical status and the affordability of the policy. When there is a significant change to your health or financial situation, one of the wisest things you can do is re-evaluate your coverage. A policy that may have sufficed at one time may no longer meet your current needs. When saving money becomes a higher priority or medical needs change, for example, you may wish to compare health insurance plans and consider switching coverage.
Most Common Reasons People Change Medical Coverage
The two most common reasons people switch plans is because they either need a more affordable health plan, or a more comprehensive policy. Generally, these will involve doing either a policy "downgrade" or "upgrade". There are various coverage options, and switching between types of health insurance may make all the difference for you.
Saving Money and Downgrading Health Plans
Oftentimes, you can obtain lower rates by switching medical coverage:
- From a group plan to a private plan
- From COBRA or HIPAA to a private plan
- From a private plan to another independent policy with a deductible or a higher deductible amount
- From one group plan to another business plan
- From one insurance carrier to another
More times than not, personal plans cost less than other policy categories. So, if you are changing health plans in order to cut premiums, consider private policies, regardless of the option you are switching from. A person who is already on a private policy can still lower their rates by downgrading to an option with reduced benefits or one where the member has a higher share of the medical service costs. Before downgrading, discuss your medical services needs with your insurance representative so you can make sure you're not trading away benefits that you need.
If you are currently covered under a private plan, get pricing information from your insurance representative. Ask for quotes on policies that have a higher deductible than the plan you have now. If your current coverage is not a deductible health insurance plan, think about making a health plan downgrade to a policy with a deductible.
If your carrier has lower priced coverage that better suits your pocket book, they can usually help you switch insurance plans without a lot of red tape. In some instances, however, you may need to reapply and go through underwriting again. Usually, personal policies can be downgraded at any time. Group plans can sometimes be downgraded mid-year, but more commonly, benefit changes can only be processed at the company's annual open enrollment period.
Should the current provider not offer options that meet your needs, the next best route is going to another carrier for quotes. This will involve completing a new application, re-underwriting, and possibly switching doctors. If the price savings merits it, switching insurance carriers may be the best course for you.
Improving Your Benefits and Upgrading Insurance Plans
On the other side of the spectrum, if you are considering changing medical plans because your present policy does not provide sufficient coverage, then, you may need a plan upgrade. If you've received a surprise bill from your provider, or were charged a much steeper amount than you anticipated, you might fall in this category. Upgrading your insurance or even switching to an HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) carrier could help you avoid these unpleasant surprises.
To upgrade health plans, a new application is usually required. Different carriers may require different processes, so check with your representative for details.
Identifying the Right Plan to Switch to
Now that you know your options in changing health plans, it is time to find the specific policy that is best for your current situation. One of the ways you can narrow the search is by taking inventory. Before switching medical plans, take inventory of what your current policy offers and identifying your must-haves. Here are some questions that could help you get a better plan than you have currently.
What do you want to be different about your current coverage?
- Do you need an affordable health plan?
- Do you want to minimize the chances of unexpected charges?
- Do you need to add benefits you didn't have before?
- Maybe, it's the service providers you're not happy with.
What are your non-negotiables? What must be included in your medical coverage?
- One of the most common core issues is cost; so, determine what budget range you would like to work with.
- In the event of a major medical situation, what is the maximum amount you are comfortable paying?
- What service benefits do you most need? Prescription benefits? Maternity coverage?