(NewsUSA) - As budgets tighten, many American households are being forced to cut expenses, including health insurance. However, cutting health insurance is a potentially risky and expensive choice.
The fact is, if you live in the U.S., you need health coverage. Often, medical and hospital fees are higher for the uninsured, and even a small accident, like a broken arm, can quickly add up to large medical bills. If you have children, they need regular physician visits and vaccinations -- services that can be pricey without insurance.
Blue Shield of California, a California-based health plan that works to create affordable healthcare plans, offers these tips to families making health coverage choices:
- Shop around. Typically, health coverage through your employer is the most economical way to go, but it's not always available for small businesses or part-time employees, or it simply may not fit all of your family's needs. When looking into other options, be sure to shop around and do your research. Compare plan benefits and read the details to understand coverage, and ask questions before applying. Compare costs for all possible expenses, including monthly rates, out-of-pocket maximums, and extras like vision and dental coverage.
- Don't select a plan based only on the monthly rate. The lowest monthly rate doesn't always provide you with the coverage that's right for you. If your children are ready for vaccinations, find a plan that has low co-payments for multiple doctor visits. If you are planning on expanding your family, carefully check maternity benefits.
- Assess your needs. Make a list of all the services you and your family use, such as preventive care, physical therapy, chiropractic care and prescriptions. Find out how the plans you like best will cover these services and the cost to you.
- When choosing a health plan, make sure you know the doctor and facility choices available. Look for a health plan that has a provider network that suits your needs. Also, when choosing a new doctor, research his or her track record or look for feedback. There are many online resources that offer help with this.