Under federal law, open enrolment for getting a health insurance for 2017 has closed on Jan. 31, 2017. Post this deadline, one will be able to enroll for a health coverage only if there a qualifying life event like marriage or a childbirth. The individual health-care mandate, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Obamacare, health savings accounts, high deductibles, etc. With so many things, forget choosing the best health insurance plan, it is extremely difficult to keep track of things. There is a wide range of options for shopping a health coverage from either a state or federal health exchange program and through an online private insurer or an insurance broker to meet every individual’s choice and budget. Although the best health plan for you ultimately depends on your place of residence, budget and coverage preference, here is a list of 10 best health insurance plans chosen after a comprehensive study of individual requirements which can make your job easier by narrowing down the options.
Firstly, let’s discuss the features of the top five government health coverage plans that are instituted.
This is an insurance program for people aged above 65 years who are permanently disabled or with chronic health problems. For example, the final stage of renal disease, ALS etc. Traditional Medicare is relatively expensive, but enrollees can have certain supplemental insurance plans to balance the cost-sharing regardless of unforeseen illness or injury. Plans like Medicare Advantage further expands the choices for people with Medicare. Further, the Medicare Part D plan allows the beneficiaries to purchase private plans with a subsidy on costs of prescription drugs. This is one of the 10 best health insurance plans.
This is a social welfare or social protection program originally instituted for the poor and now covers everyone who does not qualify for a Medicare and has an income under 133% of the federal poverty level. It is jointly funded by federal government and the states. Today, over 7.6 million hospital bills are representing 15.6% of the total aggregate inpatient hospital costs in the United States.
- State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)
This is also one of the 10 best health insurance program to provide health insurance to children who cannot afford a private insurance and are born in families that earn higher than the eligibility limits for a Medicaid. With federal funds, these plans can be run by states either independently or structured to give a joint benefit of a Medicaid and Medicare.
- Military health benefits (MHS) and American Indian Health Service (IHS)
While the former provides health benefits to all personnel related to the Department of Defense like active duty-service members, retired service members and their dependents; the IHS assists the eligible American Indians at IHS facilities in their medical expenses.
- Pre-existing condition insurance plan (PCIP)
This is created for those U.S. citizens who have been denied health coverage due to a pre-existing health condition and are uninsured for the last 6 months. There are standard, extended, and the Health Savings Account options under this plan based on the individuals’ requirement and eligibility.
Next, we complete our list of 10 best health insurance plans with the 5 good private health coverage plans. This selection depends on various factors like budget (to cover expenses including premiums, deductibles, co-insurance, and co-payments), the location of residence and service networking.
- Health Management Organizations (HMOs)
These plans are restrictive requiring the beneficiary to go through a general physician referral in order to see a specialist except during an emergency. But since there is mostly a flat co-pay charge instead of a co-insurance and a lack of a deductible, it will be advantageous for cost management. This is a better option if you’re a healthy person who doesn’t need a lot of medical care. But you will have to shell out on the entire bill amount if you go out of an HMO network.
- Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs)
Unlike the HMOs, these plans give more flexibility in choosing your health providers. Although staying within the PPO network is cheaper, you may not be required to pay the entire bill, thereby giving more flexibility to choose your health provider by going out of the network. This is an expensive plan compared to an HMO as it requires you to pay the deductible before the insurance starts and co-insurance for certain services.
- Exclusive Provider Organizations (EPOs)
This is also one of the 10 best health insurance plans which are a combination of HMO and PPO type. It requires to get medical services within the network without having to go through a referral from a primary care physician.
- Point of Service plans (POS)
This is also a hybrid of an HMO and PPO where you will need a primary-care physician for referrals with the flexibility to get services outside the network. This also gets its way on the list of 10 best health insurance plans.
- Short-term health plans
These are the cheapest plans which will only provide protection against catastrophic health disasters and not necessarily provide preventive care benefits. These are the only plans that can be bought when the open enrolment is closed and does not come under the radar of ACA regulations.
A word of caution though: Read the fine print of all the 10 best health insurance plans that you decide to proceed with after considering the benefits and drawbacks of each and the one that suits you the best.