Regardless of whether you recently left your job, underwent a significant life change, or turned 26 and are no longer eligible under your parent’s policy, shopping for health insurance on your own for the first time can be a bit overwhelming.  The healthcare industry is more complex than ever before, making it vital to familiarize yourself with how the process works, and what to expect before committing to a specific plan or carrier.       

The following represents just a handful of the most important things to be mindful of as you go about the process of enrolling in a health insurance for the very first time.  Take your time when comparing plans, carefully consider the benefits provided, and choose a plan that’s in line with your needs, budget and goals.

Familiarize Yourself the Open Enrollment Period and Relevant Dates

One of the most important things to remember is that there is a limited window for those looking to sign up for a new health insurance plan.  This is referred to as the annual Open Enrollment period, and it typically runs from November to January.  Once Open Enrollment ends, you won’t be able to buy health insurance until the start of the next period.  The only exception to this is for those who have a qualifying life change, such as getting married, moving, having a baby and several other Special Enrollment qualifications.    

Do an Assessment of Your Realistic Healthcare Needs

One of the most common mistakes made by those shopping for their first health insurance plan, is to rush the process, looking only at the monthly premiums and assuming that all of their healthcare needs will automatically be covered.  If you have a unique health concern, prefer a specific hospital, or need to see a specialist, you’ll want to make absolutely sure that the plan you select provides adequate coverage.  Choosing a plan based entirely on the monthly premium can end up being as costly as it is inconvenient.

Look Closely at Co-payments and Max Out-of-Pocket Amounts

Co-payments and maximum out-of-pocket expenses represent the amount that you’ll have to pay for things like doctor office visits, trips to the ER, outpatient procedures, etc.  As a rule of thumb, younger, healthier individuals tend to do well with plans that have lower monthly premiums and higher co-pays, while older individuals, especially those with more frequent healthcare needs should consider higher premium plans that have lower co-payment and max out-of-pocket expenses.  It’s wise to look at health insurance as a means of financial protection in the event that you have a serious illness or injury.

Consider Working with a Local Health Insurance Agent

If you’re not comfortable enrolling on your own and want to make sure that you’re getting the best coverage at an affordable monthly rate, working with a local agent is a smart decision.  Agents charge no fees for their services, the premiums you pay are identical to what you’d pay online or over the phone, and they know the industry inside-out.  Most health insurance agents work with multiple carriers, and can provide an in-depth comparison of plans that best address your needs.  Plus, they can help expedite things like billing issues, claims, replacement ID cards and more.   

At Premier Financial Insurance in Lisle, we understand how scary it can be for individuals and families who find themselves having to buy health insurance for the first time.  Our agents are honest, compassionate and here to make the process as affordable and rewarding as possible.  For answers to your questions or information on choosing the right coverage, we invite you to get in touch and let us know how we can help.  We’ve been serving Illinois for over 20 years, and work closely with some of the industry’s most respected carriers.     

Premier Financial Insurance is located at 3333 Warrenville Rd in Lisle, IL and proudly serves the needs of individuals, couples, families and businesses throughout Illinois.  We can be reached at 800-369-0287 or via email by visiting our website’s secure contact page.