Health insurance is a complicated issue when you move to the United States, and there are many traps for those who don't know what to look for. We've worked with experts in the insurance field to pick the top six things you should look for when picking health insurance as well as some common traps to look out for!
Use this advice when you start looking for companies and feel free to add your own hot tips in the comments below.
The Top 6 things to look at when you are comparing health insurance
Which factors are important when you are comparing companies?
- Which level of Medical Insurance do I need?
There should be a wide range of possibilities for you to choose between different levels of cover depending on your needs and budget. The prices of these plans should allow for differing levels of cover of treatments, benefit limits and more, so you can find the best fit. This is the hardest issue to cover when comparing companies, but you should be able to find some corresponding terms and values.
- How big is the medical network I’d have access to?
Access to a wide network of health care services is crucial. It’s very important to know the medical scope the insurer can provide and you’d be able to access to, because in many cases if the network is too small, you'll be paying out of pocket for the vast majority of your care.
- Which standard benefits offered by the health insurance are better?
Look into what you’ll benefit from by choosing X health insurance (medical essentials, flexible plans, tailored medical support, customer service centres, multilingual services, priority access, digital tools, support in other areas of your life, etc.). There's the essential financial questions, but then it's time to zoom out a little and consider all the inclusions.
- How many optional benefits has the health insurance available?
In addition to the core benefits, there should be the possibility to tailor your plan to your own needs by adding optional benefits to your core plan (vision, dental, health and well being, outpatient care, etc.).
- What are the exclusions of the health policy I choose?
Make sure you read all the exclusions when choosing a policy. Try to choose a health insurance which covers most of usual treatments in their core plans so you make sure you’re covered anytime.
- What’s the flexibility I’d have to manage costs and payments?
Make sure you have the flexibility to adjust your premium to suit your budget with a wide range of both deductibles and cost shares. These are voluntary amounts that you choose to pay that are not covered by your plan. If you choose a deductible and/or cost share, your premium will be lower than it otherwise would be.
Finally, you have the freedom to choose at which frequency you pay for your policy (annually, quarterly or monthly). If you choose an annual or quarterly payment, your premium will be slightly lower than it otherwise would be.
Common traps people should look for when investigating health insurance plans and companies
- High medical discount plans
Premiums for comprehensive coverage that are far lower than what you see elsewhere are probably too good to be true.
- Beware of “free” services.
If you're asked to provide your health insurance information for a “free” service, the service is probably not free and could be fraudulently charged to your insurance company.
- High-pressure sales tactics
Look out for companies that push low-cost plans or offer special rates if you sign up right away. You shouldn't feel pressured to sign-up, and should always be presented with lots of options and answers to your questions. If it feels like you're getting a hard-sell, then hang up and take a deep breath before re-engaging.
- Easy acceptance
Don’t sign up for a plan if the bar for acceptance seems too low — for example, if you are not required to get a physical or provide a medical history.
- Fake websites
Scammers create websites that look genuine. Google the official website of the company and see if it takes you to the exact same page you’ve been looking at or contact that company directly to check whether the deal offered by the website you first looked at is the real thing.
Health insurance for new arrivals to America
Taking all of this advice into account, it's time to find you some insurance. Personally, I used Cigna Global, a service that exists outside of the U.S. but provides coverage inside as an expat.
Instead of using the exchanges, and comparing coverage that way, I found that Cigna Global could provide me with better coverage for less money, and I jumped on it.
I have now had a doctor visit and a dentist visit, and both were completely covered by my insurance but everyone is different, do your research, and ask lots of questions!
In the months of November & December 2023, Cigna Global is offering 10% off their health insurance plans for the lifetime of the policy*. This means you get the full coverage but for a reduced price for the whole time you keep the insurance policy active.