Compare Health Insurance Plans: Our 4 Best Tips

When comparing health insurance plans, it’s very easy to get bogged down under a long list of benefits. There are four key items you need to look for when doing medical plan comparisons and looking at different types of health insurance.

Four Puzzle Pieces Coming Together
  • Check the Annual Out-of-Pocket Maximum

    This is the most important and often the most overlooked feature when people compare health insurance plans. The out-of-pocket maximum is your worst case scenario. How bad can it get if I need serious medical care? This is the amount that you would have to pay out-of-pocket in the case that you were hospitalized for a long time, needed an expensive surgery, etc. In the span of one year, what is the maximum out-of-pocket expense that I might have to pay? Keep in mind that lower deductibles don’t always mean lower out-of-pocket maximums. If you want the best plan for you and your family, we recommend choosing a plan with an out-of-pocket maximum that is less than $5,000 per person and less than $15,000 for the family.

  • Make Sure the Price is Right

    This is the most obvious and second most important feature to consider when comparing health insurance coverage. The best plan for you has to fit into your budget. Don’t worry about whether you buy your health plan directly through the carrier or through a broker. The monthly premium will be the same. Pricing is regulated by the Department of Insurance in your state.

    The premium for each plan is based on the age of the person who is applying, where they live, and the benefits for the particular plan you are viewing. If a family plan is available in your state, then, the age of the primary subscriber will determine the cost for the whole family. Also, in some cases, a person’s medical status and the absence of prior insurance may affect the premium.

  • Find Out if Doctor Visits are Covered Right Away

    Some plans require you to pay full price for primary care visits before you reach the deductible. That can get very expensive when one trip to the doctor can sometimes cost $100 to $300. Other deductible plans cover doctor visits right away with a low copayment. When you compare health insurance plans, make sure you know whether or not your visits to the doctor will be covered before the deductible.

  • Choose a Deductible Plan Between $1,500 and $3,000

    It’s hard to miss this one because many plans are named based on the amount of the deductible. Deductible Health Insurance Plans that have deductibles lower than $1,000 are often not worth your time. If you want that rich of coverage, you might as well just get a copayment plan that has no deductible. Many find that choosing a deductible between $1,500 and $3,000 gives them the savings they want without getting too high of a deductible. Be careful not to get the deductible and out-of-pocket maximum mixed up. The deductible is where your lower copayments kick in and the out-of-pocket maximum is where you get to stop paying those copayments. 

If you are interested in information about switching plans, click Change Health Plans.

How does Kaiser Permanente compare to other health plans?

On the issue of quality of care, Kaiser Permanente ranks above all other mainstream health insurance providers and consistently receives the best reviews when compared to other carriers. Kaiser Permanente leads the industry in prevention and health education while maintaining competitive pricing. Enter your zip code and click “Get Quotes” above to view health plan comparisons online. 

Note: In 2014, it is expected that many uninsured may choose to get coverage through exchanges, which will provide additional opportunities to compare health insurance coverage.