Conclusion: You should have as much health insurance as you can reasonably afford. That's a clear and simple enough rule. Unfortunately, nothing else about health insurance is either clear or simple. Your choices are more complex than ever. Rising costs and the efforts to control them are affecting your options almost daily. On top of that, employees are being asked to pay for a bigger portion of their companies' health insurance premiums, and insurers are trying to steer you to doctors and hospitals who have agreed to hold down costs, thus restricting your choice of health care providers.
What to do? The smart thing to do is to learn about each kind of coverage you'll encounter because you'll probably have to choose among them, and the choice you make can have a major impact on your finances.
What to Consider When Picking a Plan
Cost can be a key factor, but you also need to consider quality and continuity of care.
You choose the doctor and the insurance picks up part or all of the tab.
Health Maintenance Organizations
You'll pay a flat monthly fee but little to no deductible. But if you go to a provider outside the plan, you probably will have to foot the bill.
You can choose from a group of providers who've contracted with your insurer to offer services at a discount rate. And there is more flexibility when it comes to seeing doctors outside the plan.
When You're on Your Own
Get tips on finding an affordable plan and learn how to control costs.
When COBRA Kicks in
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act lets you keep your health coverage when you leave a job.
Take Advantage of Tax-Deferred Accounts
Health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts let you set aside pre-tax dollars to pay out-of-pocket medical expenses.