The Affordable Care Act gave consumers the opportunity to choose health insurance plans in a competitive marketplace. However, selecting a health insurance plan isn’t a simple task, and the Health Insurance Marketplace, which is filled with many types of plans at many price points, can certainly lead to some confusion. Ultimately, consumers who have limited knowledge of health insurance may be led down a path toward a plan that simply doesn’t work for their lifestyle and health care needs.
Selecting the Wrong Plan
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that up to 85 percent of consumers chose the wrong plan in 2014. A poorly selected insurance plan can have several long-term consequences. Individuals might not have adequate coverage for their health care needs, or they might be limited in the checkups, procedures, and prescriptions that their insurance covers. Ultimately, these individuals might end up with significant medical bills due to this poorly selected insurance plan.
Selecting an insurance plan should always consider a variety of factors, but ultimately, many people tend to make decisions based on just one factor: price. Tight budgets and exorbitant healthcare costs may leave people looking for the inexpensive health insurance option–even if that option isn’t the best for their unique needs and may even cost more in the long run.
People shopping for health insurance often begin on a website to collect quotes after entering their zip code. This method can result in a poorly selected plan. These “zip code” insurance quotes consider only the individual’s location, and the quotes and recommended plans are not tailored with the individual’s healthcare needs in mind.
Health care and health insurance shopping is undergoing tremendous innovation.
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Even more, most people aren’t well versed in insurance terminology. So, when they are perusing these “zip code” insurance quotes, they might not be quite sure what they are reading. Thus, they choose a budget-friendly plan without the confidence that the plan they chose will be sufficient for their healthcare needs. This uninformed and depersonalized method of insurance shopping certainly contributes to a high numbers of dissatisfied consumers.
Choosing the wrong insurance plan affects more than just the individual. The federal government will take a hit as well. It stands to lose up to $9 billion in higher subsidy payments resulting from those consumers who chose the wrong plan. Choosing the wrong insurance plan isn’t just a personal problem–it’s a national one.
Tips and Tricks
Shopping for insurance doesn’t have to be confusing. The key to a successful insurance shopping experience is personalizing it. First, think carefully about what you need in an insurance plan. While you should certainly look broadly at the costs, including premiums, deductibles, and the cost of any hospital stays, you should also see what doctors and hospitals you will have access to under the new plan. Also, consider the type of prescription drugs that the plan will cover. Then, skip the “zip code” quotes and work on securing quotes for your unique needs. Using this method, you’ll be more pleased with your insurance plan, and you just might save the government some money along the way.