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When shopping for health insurance for the year ahead, you obviously have to pay a lot of attention to the features of the plan you select. But the reality is, you're not just choosing a plan - you're choosing a healthcare partner you'll rely on financially in time of need.
You have to compare companies just as carefully as you compare individual policies. Not all insurers are "created equal," and knowing their relative strengths and weaknesses can save you a lot of headaches down the road.
Here are 5 factors to use as a measuring stick when comparing health insurers:
1. Overall Customer Satisfaction Rate
You can quickly check with the Better Business Bureau, online review sites, and other tools and organizations to discover what kind of customer satisfaction rate an insurer has.
Not every complaint is legitimate, of course, but if the overwhelming majority of policyholders are very satisfied with what they're getting - it's a good sign maybe you would be too.
2. Customer Service & Claims Handling
When you visit the insurer's website, is it easy to read and understand? Are there experts available to answer your questions in quick chat sessions or over the phone?
If you need to call in to file a claim and process it, what kind of history does the company have in that regard? Are claims slow in coming and often challenged or denied for questionable reasons?
These are the kinds of criteria that set one company above another in terms of customer care and reliability - but you practically have to talk to a past or current customer of that company OR to an experienced insurance broker to get answers to these kinds of important questions.
3. Plenty Of Provider Options
Some health insurance companies, like Blue Cross Blue Shield for example, have a vast nationwide network of providers. You can usually find suitable healthcare providers that are in-network with such companies regardless of where exactly in the United States you live.
That's huge. Without networked care within reasonable driving distance, you'll be forced to sometimes go out of network, pay more, and defeat the purpose of having insurance to begin with.
Plus, a bigger network means more options - not just one or two at most. It give you the freedom to actually choose your providers AND your insurer!
4. Affordable Plan Offerings
Health insurance costs vary from state to state and region to region, just like the cost of healthcare itself. And you have to compare pricing relative to value - or it's apples to oranges and not a valid comparison.
BUT, you also have to find a health care plan that fits within your budget and is reasonably and competitively priced. Some insurers excel at providing you with that more than do others.
5. Flexibility On Plans
Finally, when comparing insurers, consider the variety of plans they offer and the flexibility you're given in customizing a plan that fits your exact needs.
Whether an individual plan, an employer-based plan, or a supplement plan, you should enjoy a reasonable degree of freedom in tailor-fitting your plan to your situation.
A good health insurance agent can help you compare both insurance companies and the plans they offer. It can be a bit bewildering to confront the large numbers of options available.
Contact Summerlin Benefits Consulting today, and we can help you navigate your options and locate your best one!