Open enrollment for health insurance in 2016 begins again on November 1, 2015. Now is the time to consider if you are happy with your current coverage — or if the plan you have now still fits your budget. But, before you switch plans, you will want to ask your insurance agent a few questions so that you purchase the plan that is right for your needs and those of your family.
What is the yearly deductible?
If you are a healthy person and a bit of a gambler with some savings in the bank, it might make sense for you to purchase a plan with an annual deductible of $5000 or even $7,500. If you frequently need treatment, lab work and procedures to manage a medical condition, it will likely be worth the extra expense to purchase a plan that has a lower deductible.
Is there a ceiling for out-of-pocket expenses?
Most insurance companies have a cap on the amount you will spend on out-of-pocket medical expenses each year. Generally, the lower the cost of the policy, the higher the cap will be set. For example, an economical policy might have an annual cap of $10,000, while a higher-end one might set a cap at $2,500. The danger comes when there is no cap at all, as a plan that covers 80 percent of treatment is not insurance at all if a family member has had medical treatment running into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
What about prescription coverage?
According to Truveris, a research firm that tracks drug pricing, medication prices for brand, generic and specialty drugs combined increased 10.9% in 2014. While a plan may be less expensive in the short-term, the benefits may not be there in the long-run if you develop or have a disease that requires expensive medication.
Does the plan cover health care and emergency treatment when you are traveling overseas?
Some people take for granted that their insurance policy will cover them wherever they go, but this is not always the case. If you travel frequently, it is worth asking whether the policy you are considering will pay for doctor visits and hospital stays in other countries. It is also a good idea to inquire about emergency medical evacuations, as these can be quite costly. If the policy does not include travel, that does not mean it is an inferior policy, just that you will need to purchase travel insurance before leaving the country.