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Health and stress have a cyclical relationship: stress negatively impacts your health, and your health problems can cause you stress. Add in the financial implications of paying for medication, visits to the doctor, and specialized treatment, and this vicious cycle can create a downward spiral.

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Having the right health insurance plan in place is a shield against this occurrence. Finding the right insurance plan that covers your needs while fitting your budget is the key to prolonged health and prosperity. Here is how you can find out more about affordable health insurance plans.

Take Time to Understand the Basics

Knowledge is power when it comes to choosing health insurance for yourself or your family. Before you can start the process of finding affordable health insurance, you need to understand how insurance works.

Most people know less about health insurance than they think they do. In fact, 96% of Americans don’t understand the fundamental terminology of health insurance, let alone what it covers. 

The four main components of health insurance that you’ll want to understand before you start comparing options include:

  1. Co-Pay – this is the fixed amount you pay for a service. For example, if your co-pay is set at $25, you’ll pay the doctor $25 each time you visit.
  2. Deductible – this is similar to car insurance and refers to the amount you have to pay out of pocket before your insurance kicks in. If your deductible is $500 and your dental bill is $1500, you’ll have to pay $500 before your insurance is calculated on the rest.
  3. Co-Insurance – this is the percentage of an expense that your insurance will cover. Using the example above, if your co-insurance is 80%, your insurance will pay for $800 of the remaining $1000 of your dental bill.
  4. Out-of-Pocket Max – this is the threshold that you can spend. If your maximum is $12,000 per year and your bills exceed that after co-pay, co-insurance, and deductibles, your insurance will cover the rest.

By having an understanding of these terms, you’ll be able to be sure that the affordable health insurance you find doesn’t have any costly surprises for you down the road.

Shop Around

Give yourself plenty of time to shop around for health insurance. It can take a couple of months to find the provider that meets your needs and fits your budget.

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Fortunately, the internet makes it easy to expand your horizons when looking for affordable health coverage. Look at individual providers, government websites, comparison websites, and local brokers who can help you find a deal.

You also have the option of shopping around based on special considerations and requirements. For example, if you’re a senior, a veteran, or have sustained a debilitating workplace injury, you may have different options than a healthy, middle-aged career man.

Create Your Own Comparison Sheets

There are many websites that will compare deals for you. However, they have their own set of general metrics that may not apply to your unique needs. While using these sites is beneficial, creating your own comparison sheets to consolidate options and compare at will can help narrow down your options.

For example, one site might outline the benefits of Blue Cross Blue Shield Texas but highlight the benefits of another agency that’s paying them a kickback. By taking a closer look at what’s included and creating your own reference point, you’ll be able to remove bias and make a decision based on your personal needs.

Use a program like Excel to create columns that outline what various insurance providers offer. Additionally, create columns that pertain to your specific needs. For example, if you know that your child will need braces in the next few years, orthodontist coverage will be a personal selling point.

Prioritize Prevention

One of the best things you can do to find affordable health insurance is to be proactive in caring for your health. The best way to save money on health expenses is to prioritize prevention. Not only will this reduce the risk of various diseases throughout the course of your life, but it will also make you eligible for lower rates.

For example, smokers often have higher insurance rates than non-smokers because they pose a risk for increased health concerns. Taking active steps to exercise and eat healthy, limit tobacco and alcohol use, and prioritize self-care can make all the difference in your health-related expenses.

Final Thoughts

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Shopping for health insurance is no simple task. To find out more about affordable health insurance plans, you need to be willing to confirm your literacy about the subject and dedicate time to researching your options. The opportunity cost of these actions is well worth the return on investment.