You are lucky if you are getting medical insurance outside job-based plans this season. After several years of sabotage and cutbacks, the Malaysian government has stopped all that and is helping people find great medical plans.
Do you know what that means?
You have enough time to sign up, free support to choose a plan, and a likelihood of qualifying for subsidies to reduce medical insurance costs.
But still, choosing the right medical insurance requires hard work. There are many confusing terminologies, and the entire process can make you think really hard about your finances and health. Not to mention, you will need to navigate all these on a strict deadline.
Whether you are ageing out of your guardian’s plans and are looking to choose a medical insurance plan for the very first time, or the existing one no longer works for you, the following are tips that can help you make the right decision:
1. Compare Types
Among the common types of medical insurance coverage are POS, EPO, PPO, and HMO plans. What you go for can help to determine which doctors to see and your out-of-pocket costs.
If you prefer a POS or HMO plan, which often needs referrals, you must see primary care physicians before you visit a specialist or schedule a procedure. Because of that, most people opt to go for other plans. But by limiting your options to providers you have contracted with, HMOs are a cheaper plan.
Another benefit of HMO plans is that there will be one primary care physician to manage your health. This translates to more familiarity with your needs and medical records.
2. Do the Calculations
Most people focus on monthly premiums alone. But experts at Gibraltar BSN advise that you as well look at your deductible. For example, if you have the option of choosing between a higher gold plan at $560 per month with a $1,800 deductible, and a lower silver plan of $455 per month with a $6,000 deductible, it will be best to go for the first option. This is especially true if you think you will need more than $1,500 in the healthcare.
3. Save after Signing Up
Medical insurance provides financial and medical protection against serious accidents or illnesses. Apart from that, medical insurance policies may help protect against bankruptcy, debt, and financial hardships.
In case you don’t have one through your spouse, parents, employer, or other sources, you may consider signing up for a private medical insurance policy.
Before, individuals with preexisting health conditions were denied medical insurance. And if their application was granted, they charged extremely high monthly premiums.
Today, you may buy a private medical insurance policy through insurance marketplaces irrespective of your current or past health.
Signing up for a medical insurance policy is one of the most effective ways to plan for a better and healthy future, not just for yourself but for your finances and family.
4. Know the Medical Insurance Terminologies
You may come across some jargon, which you need to familiarize yourself with when looking for a good plan. Among the common term you will bump into is premium. This refers to the amount of money you pay for a medical insurance plan every month. If you are employed, your employer will cover all or part of your monthly premium. Lower premiums don’t mean more savings. And depending on the medical care needs you have, spending more money every month can translate to a medical insurance policy.
Another terminology you will come across is deductible. This is defined as the amount you will pay for covered medical care services before the insurance plan starts paying. For instance, with a $4,000 deductible, you will pay the first $4,000 of the covered services. Once you pay for deductibles, you will only pay coinsurance or copay for the covered services while your insurer covers the rest. Apart from premium and deductible, other terms you will encounter are the following:
- Copay or copayment
- Out-of-pocket maximum
5. Go for a Policy with a Lifetime Renewability
Lifetime renewability is a vital aspect to look at, yet most people forget about it. Ensure you look at the number of years your policy plan has been valid and determine whether or not it provides limited lifetime renewability.
But why so?
That is because you need a medical plan during the later years. So opt for a family medical plan offering lifetime renewability. With this, you will proceed with the same plan without the hassles of getting another one after your cross the age limits.
For instance, your medical insurance policy may provide lifetime renewability until 50 years. Once you cross that age, you will have to get another, which may cost more.
6. Ensure Your Provider is in-Network
Do you like your current primary care physicians? If yes, then you must determine whether they will be in-network should there be a change in your insurance plan.
But if you don’t have a primary care physician that you are fond of, consider checking the list of the in-network providers in the new plan. Reach out to a new primary care physician and inquire about their office hours, their credentials, and whether they see new patients.
With this, you will know what you are about to get yourself into before switching.You may go further by checking with the MMA (Malaysian Medical Association) for a provider’s details.
7. Look at the Evacuation or Ambulance Costs
When assessing several medical insurance policies, this is one area plans could be different, and it might be worth it to check out all the key differences in out-of-pocket and coverage costs.
Medical evacuations or ambulance rides from country to country could be costly. So be sure to choose a health insurance plan with the level of benefit you will be comfortable with.
Choosing the right medical insurance policy to meet your needs might be complex. However, it is imperative to review all your options every year to ensure you have noticed changes and consider a new plan which could be available. Unless your employer has covered you, you will have decisions to make every year.