Switching your health insurance can be quite dangerous. There are some issues that can cause you headaches (metaphorically speaking). Here is a guide to some of these issues, along with advice to help you work through this process.
What Do You Need?
As you are moving from one provider to another, it is important to look at what you have. Use this as a baseline against which to assess a potential new provider.
This will be easy with issues such as deductibles and coverage in different areas. However, consider some elements that could make life difficult:
- Is your doctor or specialist covered?
- Do you have special needs? For instance, if you wear contacts or glasses, losing such coverage could be devastating. Medical conditions that require oxygen or a wheelchair, for example, require adequate cover as a matter of course.
- Look at your current medications, and how your coverage may change with other prospective providers.
The idea is to get a sense of your needs and characteristics as an insured person. If your doctor isn’t on the network, or they won’t cover your vision needs, it will be easier to catch this and move on.
Notes on the Process Itself
The process of changing health care providers can be daunting. One important situation to understand is that of being in between providers.
If this applies to you, you must make haste to find new medical coverage. Don’t wait for your current policy to run out, or for too much time to pass without any coverage. Of all insurance types, health insurance is perhaps the most dangerous to neglect.
Also, if you need to switch medical professionals, prepare the necessary information:
- Business name, along with full name and credentials
- Full address, telephone and fax numbers
- Date of last visit
- Current medications and courses of treatment
Having your medical records in order will make the switch easier. You may also find out if your physician(s) can send your records over directly.
The Biggest Danger – Pre-existing Conditions
Yes, the words “pre-existing conditions” will send chills down the spine of anyone who has dealt with this potential mess.
Basically, this refers to a previous condition that may not be covered with your new insurance provider. Such conditions will be specified in writing by your new provider, which could mean that you will not have coverage for such a condition.
The potential nightmare comes from the variation in definitions. Some providers define pre-existing conditions as those for which the patient has previously received medical advice or treatment, prior to the new plan. Others define it within the “prudent person” definition, which relates to a condition in which symptoms were present and a prudent person would have sought treatment.
Anything, from cancer to a broken leg, from poor eyesight to the use of prescription drugs, can be defined as a pre-existing condition. While this is only a brief commentary on the topic, it is incredibly important to look at this with a new policy. You will need to know if and how it affects you.
Compare Health Insurance Policies
If you are aware of your needs in a health insurance provider, and have the biggest hurdle (pre-existing conditions) covered, you can feel free to start pricing and comparing different policies.
Keeping in mind the network, costs (premiums, deductibles, etc.), coverage, and other aspects, compare health insurance policies and ensure they suit your needs. This is just like any other insurance with regard to comparing policies to get the best price.
Shop around, keep notes on the strengths and weaknesses of each plan, and go from there. Switching health insurance is no walk in the park, but you can navigate it with a step-by-step approach.