Getting your hands on the best Colorado health insurance you can afford may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be when you know what you’re doing. Read on for some tips to help you find the best Colorado health insurance plan for your budget.
Know your options
To obtain a plan, you can either buy individual health insurance or you can get group health insurance through your employer. There are several kinds of plans to choose from. Here is a brief primer.
FFS (Fee-for-Service) – A fee-for-service plan will pay a specific amount for each service rendered by your health care provider. There are limits, called “allowable amounts”, that the plan can pay. You should clarify these limits and other details with your insurance company. FFS plans are not very popular in Colorado because, in general, we have good access to PPO and HMO networks. As such, you can usually get a better value by opting for a PPO or HMO plan.
HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) – In this plan type, you are limited to the health care providers within the HMO network and often times are assigned to a primary care physician (PCP). Your PCP helps to “manage your healthcare”.
PPO (Preferred-Provider Organization) – This plan resembles that of an HMO, except that you may use providers outside of the network, although at lesser rates and benefits than any of the preferred providers. In addition, with a PPO you generally have the flexibility to see any specialist without first having to get a referral from your PCP.
HSA (Health Savings Account) – A Health Savings Account (HSA) is a tax advantaged savings account that allows you to set aside money for health care. This savings account is paired with a high deductible health insurance plan – the result being affordable yet comprehensive health coverage.
Study and compare plans
Given that you have a wide variety of plans to select from, don’t just get what your neighbor, co-worker, or best friend got. Each person has different needs and your insurance should be capable of meeting those needs when the time comes. Ideally, you should base your choice on these criteria:
the quality of the medical care you will receive
the coverage of your plan
how much your premiums will cost
Consider all these factors and weigh the cost with the benefits. Don’t shortchange yourself by getting affordable health insurance but with mediocre coverage – when the worst happens, you’ll be the one left holding the bag.
Look for alternatives
Having a hard time getting insured? Getting adequate health insurance in Colorado depends in some ways on your current health, family, and employment status. If you find that you have been denied or can’t afford health insurance, don’t despair. There are several programs you can turn to.
Medicaid – You may qualify for this if you already have a pre-existing condition and are in a low income bracket. Find out if you are eligible for Medicaid by contacting the Colorado Medicaid Program at 1.800.221.3943 or 1.800.659.2656.
Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) — Colorado provides plans for children from low income families through the CHP+. There are several rules pertaining to income brackets and family sizes.
Medicare – Another program you can turn to if you have a pre-existing condition or disability. Normally you would have to be 65 years of age or older to qualify, but you still can access this program if you have a condition that is expected to last more than one year or is considered fatal.
CoverColorado — This is a state-run program that sells health insurance to a select number of high-risk individuals–people turned down by other Colorado health insurance companies due to a serious medical condition or disability.
Get Expert Advice
Let’s face it, health insurance policies can be hard to comprehend without some guidance. In Colorado, as anywhere, the right advice can give you the coverage you want while saving you hundreds (or thousands) of dollars a year. You can get advice from two sources: a good agent or a health insurance website.
You can source a good agent from friends and family members. As a criteria, a good agent won’t just help you find the right policy; they will provide service before, during, and after the policy has been sold. That means helping you helping you update your plan, being upfront about the rules and limits of your coverage, and helping you sort out claims issues if and when the need arises. In addition, a good agent will monitor your policy over the years to ensure that you are still getting the best value for your premium investment.
Understandably, some people don’t have time to go from agent to agent. If that’s the case, a health insurance website is the way to go. Look for an insurance website that is backed by a well-established insurance agency that offers a variety of services, and who are tried and tested experts on Colorado health insurance.
Read Your Policies
In the end, its all about knowing what you own. Don’t rely on blind faith that you’re getting the right health plan for your money. If you’re not sure about the terms, clauses and limits in the document, talk to an expert about it. And finally, don’t be afraid to say no. As Warren Buffett said, “If you don’t feel comfortable owning something for 10 years, then don’t own it for 10 minutes.”