How Much Health Insurance Do I Need?

Under new health care legislation, all Americans will be required to carry health insurance starting in 2014.

How much health insurance will you need under the new law? Everyone should have enough health insurance coverage to cover all medical expenses as well as unexpected health care costs. This includes regular check-ups, physical exams, and prescription drugs, as well as medical emergencies and hospitalization. Whatever health care plan you select, the main thing is to make sure you have coverage in the event of a major illness or other medical problem. These include things that you might anticipate, like having a baby, as well as unexpected accidents or illnesses. Medical expenses can add up quickly, and if you don't have insurance, your wallet may face crippling debt for years after your body has recovered. All reasonable health insurance plans should cover major medical expenses once your deductible is met.

Health Insurance for Every Budget

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Under the new health care law, health insurance companies will not be allowed to drop anyone due to illness or major medical expenses. All Americans will be required to carry health insurance, whether it is an employer-sponsored plan or an individual health insurance plan. The government will cover the costs of health insurance for anyone with income equal to 133% of the poverty level, and may provide subsidies for citizens in the middle-income bracket.

After major medical disasters, the next thing health insurance should do is make it less expensive for your routine medical exams and tests. Most health insurance options have a sort of "sliding scale" where you can pay more in premiums and less at the doctor's office, or vice versa. In general, people who are young, healthy, and single will save money by opting for a lower monthly premium and higher co-pays for office visits and prescription drugs. Similarly, individuals with medical conditions, families, or other reasons for frequent doctor visits, usually save money by paying a bit more on a monthly basis in exchange for low co-pays on office visits and prescription medicine.

Your health insurance deductible, the amount you must pay before the insurance picks up the tab, works much the same way. Plans with higher deductibles usually offer lower monthly premiums, while lower deductible plans may come with higher premiums. If you anticipate a lot of medical expenses, a low-deductible plan can save money. For example, you might pay $100 or even $200 extra per month, in exchange for an annual deductible that is $3000 less.

The key things to remember are (1) make sure you're covered for major medical disasters, and (2) be realistic about how much you'll go to the doctor. Making a mistake about how much you expect to visit the doctor's office can have a major impact on your medical expenses. If you're single, healthy, and hardly ever visit the doctor, you probably don't want to waste a lot of money on monthly premiums. At the same time, if you and your family visit the doctor frequently -- for example, if you have young children, or family members with medical conditions -- it may be well worth the extra money in monthly premiums in exchange for lower deductibles and office visit co-pays.

Many more people than ever before are interested in knowing exactly how much health insurance they need. Increasingly, employees are presented with a variety of health care plans, often called cafeteria health care plans because of the mix-and-match possibilities for health coverage. Employees can choose from HMO, PPO, or other types of plans, and have options for different levels of coverage within those plans.

Self-employed individuals, or those whose employer does not provide coverage, should research individual and family health care plans. Most major health care insurers offer programs and plans for individuals. his type of direct health insurance is becoming more common, and just like the employer-sponsored cafeteria plans, individual health coverage presents a wide range of choices.

Because of these trends in health insurance, individuals are faced with more decisions than ever before about what type of health care coverage to select. By remembering the guidelines presented in this article, and researching your options, you can save money and have peace of mind.