How much health coverage do I need?

Health insurance is one area in which many people are forced to scrimp. Unless they receive free benefits from their employers, many cannot afford the premiums on their own. Others, still, do not think it is important, so they never take out a policy. But, heath insurance is important, and sadly, tragedy can strike at any time. For this reason, it is important to have some insurance, if only a small policy. When families and individuals finally decide to purchase insurance, the first question they ask is, “How much health coverage do I need?”.

Unfortunately, most people buy health coverage depending on what they can afford. While that is not a bad thing, as one should stay within a budget, it is sad because most do not really have the opportunity to choose the right plan. In order to get the health coverage that best suits you and your family, you need to calculate your total out-of-pocket expenses if you had to pay for services yourself. Starting with the previous year’s costs might help you to understand your total expenditures made. For example, tally up how much you spent on prescriptions, doctor visits, and routine services such as examinations and blood work. This will be the most basic number that gets you by. In other words, if everything stays the same, costs will not increase.

We all know, however, that nothing stays the same. Changes in health are expected, and worse yet, accidents do happen. How will you cope if you or one of your children are required to make an emergency visit to the hospital? Thus, the second part of deciding how much health coverage you need is to estimate the emergencies and changes. Of course, this is not an easy task because you have no way of knowing what is going to happen, but, you should factor all contingencies into the total number.

Remember, too, that emergency visits to the hospital may not be the only extra costs. Maybe your condition changes, and you need regular medication for high blood pressure, for instance. And, once you do have an emergency or change, you or a family member might be required to see a specialist or you might require specialized exams. All of these unforeseen activities need to be part of your total health coverage.

Another area that you should examine is whether or not your existing policy is adequate. If your policy was purchased years ago, will it cover you if something happens now? Should it be upgraded to meet today’s costs? Additionally, if you already have some form of coverage, can you add to it, either with another company, or another type of policy? If you are restricted in what you can do, then maybe you should consider other options. It is always better to investigate while you have time to research, rather than in an emergency when you need to make split-second decisions. The stress factor of an emergency will undoubtedly cloud your vision.

Finally, what happens if you cannot make the decision after an accident occurs? Maybe you are incapacitated, or so ill that you cannot think clearly. Or maybe the insurance company will not let you change the policy once an accident happens. Many health coverage plans are null and void if the insurer believes you did not disclose a pre-existing condition. Remember the example of high blood pressure we gave above. What if you have a heart attack? Will the insurer now cover the costs of your medications?

The truth is that when choosing health coverage, you need to think about the costs of anything that will and can happen, and then that is your optimum health coverage number.

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