Stressed about copays and deductibles? Have no idea what ‘open enrollment’ actually means? You’re not alone!

Did you know that a mere 4% of Americans can correctly define the terms and conditions for health insurance? Most of us find ourselves scratching our heads when it comes to dissecting how coverage works. However, choosing the best medical insurance is essential for your peace of mind. It’s also critical to maintaining your financial health.

Let’s get into what you need to know.

Identifying Your Marketplace

Most people obtain insurance through their employers. If your work offers coverage, this is almost guaranteed to be the cheapest option. That’s because your employer contributes to part of the coverage.

If you’re self-employed or don’t have insurance through work, you’ll need to secure insurance through your state’s marketplace.

You can also purchase health insurance directly from an insurance company or private exchange.

Identifying Your Plan

The most common types of health insurance plans are HMOs, PPOs, and EPOs.

HMO Plans

HMO plans to have the lowest out-of-pocket expenses. However, procedures and specialists require a referral. This means you need to see a primary care physician before scheduling another appointment.

You also need to stay in-network to receive coverage.

PPO Plans

PPO plans tend to cover more provider options compared to HMO plans. If you want to choose your own doctor, you’ll likely have an easier time with a PPO.

You don’t need referrals to obtain procedures or meet with specialists. Furthermore, you can go out-of-network to receive care (though it costs more than in-network care).

EPO Plans

EPO plans also have lower out-of-pocket costs. They don’t require referrals. However, you must stay in-network to receive coverage.

To choose the best plan, you should consider your family’s medical needs and health history. Of course, it’s impossible to determine future medical expenses accurately, and you should be aware of your trends and habits.

Examining Out-of-Pocket Costs

All plans provide a summary of benefits outlining your out-of-pocket costs. These can be confusing, but it’s vital you understand how each of them works.

Deductible

The deductible refers to how much you pay before the health insurance starts kicking in. If, for example, you have a $2500 deductible, you need to pay $2500 of out-of-pocket before the coverage begins covering such costs.

Your deductible resets every year.

Copay

Copay refers to the set rate you’ll pay for various health services at the time of care. For example, you may have a $50 copay for meeting with your primary care physician and a $100 copay for meeting with a specialist.

Coinsurance

Coinsurance refers to the part of the medical costs that you pay after your deductible has been met. For example, if you have a 40% coinsurance, you will pay 40% of the bill (with your insurance covering the remaining 60%).

Out-Of-Pocket Maximum

This figure refers to the maximum money you’ll have to pay in one year out-of-pocket for your health care. If you reach that number, your health insurance then covers 100% of the medical costs.

Maximum out-of-pocket limits for 2019 group plans are:

  • $7,900 for self-only coverage
  • $15,800 for family coverage

Premium

The premium refers to the monthly payment you make to the insurance company. Most employers automatically deduct this premium from your paycheck.

Examining Health Plan Networks

You’ll always save money by using in-network doctors. That’s because the insurance companies directly contract lower rates with in-network providers.

If you have doctors or specialists that you prefer seeing, make sure that they are in-network with your plan.

If you don’t have a preferred doctor, consider selecting a plan with a large network. This will provide you with more options.

Switching doctors? Due to HIPAA, your information is confidential and held in a secure patient portal (check out this useful article to learn more). You’ll need to sign a confidentiality waiver to release your records.

Comparing Health Benefits

You should thoroughly examine your summary of benefits to see which plans best cover your needed services. Some plans, for example, may have better coverage for medication or substance abuse services.

If you’re not sure about a particular question, it’s wise to call the insurance company directly.

Health Savings Accounts

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) have received serious traction in recent years. Many financial buffs recommend them for their ‘triple-tax-advantage’ benefit.

HSA plans are available to people with high deductible health plans (minimum of $1350 for self-coverage and $2700 for family coverage). You can contribute $3,500 as an individual and $7000 for family coverage.

You don’t pay taxes on the money you put into the account. Furthermore, you won’t pay taxes when you withdraw the money. Finally, the money earns tax-free interest.

HSA balances roll over every year. At age 65, you can use these funds for any purpose without facing a penalty. However, you can also use the money to pay for eligible health care expenses at any time.

HSA plans can also be an excellent investment strategy. You can invest a portion of your funds in various stocks or mutual funds. Again, this money grows tax-free.

These plans don’t work for everyone (i.e, some employers don’t offer high deductible plans and some people need lower deductibles). That said, they can be useful in socking away additional money for medical costs.

Final Thoughts on Selecting the Best Medical Insurance

Choosing the best medical insurance is essential for supporting your family’s health needs. Once you determine your needs, the process of selecting a plan doesn’t feel so daunting.

Are you interested in cutting your family’s health care costs in 2019? Check out this article today!

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6 Most Useful Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs

Starting a business – and being successful at it – requires the right amount of talent, knowledge and skills. You must have the knowledge about your industry, about general business principles, as well as about the laws and regulations that affect your operation.

Additionally, you must have nerves of steel and a heavy dose of patience to take chances and navigate the ups and downs that come with any new venture.

Although success often requires you to have ambition and clear goals, it also requires a certain set of personal skills. Here you will read about six useful skills that entrepreneurs need on their way to success.

1. Ability to listen

Great communicators make great businesspeople. In the business world, you must establish rapport with partners and suppliers. You also need to be there for your employees.

Of course, in order to succeed, you need to commit to customer service excellence, which involves hearing what your customers have to say. All these types of interaction involve one common skill – the ability to listen.

Without the capacity to interact with other people, you will have difficulty getting your new business off the ground. If you have little practice with interpersonal relationships, don’t lose hope.

By learning how to listen, you take one of the best shortcuts available on the path to becoming a great communicator.

When people have something to say, never interrupt them. People often have feelings, opinions, and interests that differ from yours, but if you learn to hear them out, you can quickly win people over.

As you listen attentively, notice the non-verbal cues that contribute to the conversation. When you intentionally communicate with customers and other people through listening, you gain their trust, loyalty, and admiration.

2. Assertiveness and confidence

Though listening skills are undeniably important, that doesn’t mean you have to keep quiet. Quite the contrary, being a good businessperson implies believing in yourself and being able to speak your mind with confidence. After all, communication goes two ways.

As an aspiring entrepreneur, you will often find yourself in situations that require assertiveness. Whether you are dealing with a pushy business partner or a demanding employee, you should never let others dictate your actions.

So, when you need to express your opinion – even if it includes disagreeing with the other party – try to do it assertively and confidently.

Take a deep breath, and articulate your thoughts. Sometimes it might seem overwhelming, as if you are on the verge of a conflict, but eventually you will learn to relax and project self-assurance. You will also gain the trust and respect of those around you.

3. Willingness to Learn

Being a businessperson requires an ongoing willingness to learn. Even after building a successful business, you have not finished your job. In fact, when it comes to learning and improving, you are never quite finished.

Continuous learning will help you evolve both personally and professionally. An insatiable appetite for learning through the Internet, books, documentaries, and seminars will deepen your knowledge and help you maintain your creative edge.

You should also remember to stay up-to-date with all the relevant development in your industry. Pay attention to trends and issues that affect your line of business and learn from the people who have already succeeded in businesses similar to yours.

Talk to industry leaders to get their advice, and apply their insight to your own business. Whatever you do, make learning an ongoing process both in your personal and professional life.

4. Creativity 

When it comes to keeping your business fresh and competitive, creativity is an essential skill. To innovate, you need to be creative. Being creative means doing things differently and thinking not only outside the box but also without that box!

This goes for both your personal life and business. In fact, those two are interconnected – when you spark creativity in your personal life, it will inevitably reflect on your business. So, what can you do?

What you can do is shake up your routine by trying new ways of doing things. Even small changes such as rearranging your office, driving home via a new route, ordering an unusual meal and talking to strangers can help you develop habits that can lead to innovation.

You should also attempt to think about things from new perspectives and apply new ways of solving problems. A little bit of creativity can go a long way in terms of your business growth, so do everything you can not to stifle it with convention and routine.

5. Courage and risk taking 

Entrepreneurs take risks, and you will surely find yourself in situations that require quick and risky decision making. You should never act recklessly, but you should always have the courage to try new ideas and to take little risks. If you don’t try, you will not succeed – it is that simple.

People are often held back by the fear of failure. Rather than fearing failure, embrace it. Sometimes the best experiences in business come from ideas that didn’t work.

Follow your creativity by implementing new ideas and making bold decisions even when you lack clear direction. As an entrepreneur, you should have the guts to take chances and have faith. As John Burroughs once said, “Leap, and the net will appear.”

6. Perseverance 

Last but not least, entrepreneurs must never give up. Remember this – never give up! There will be numerous obstacles and challenges along your way, but if you persevere in spite of them, you will reap success.

Sometimes this means having to accept failure. Even when your failures are expensive and embarrassing, they can still lead to success. Forgive yourself when you make mistakes and look for lessons you can learn from every seemingly negative experience.

As a business owner, you must also develop patience. Success usually does not come overnight, and setbacks do not magically resolve themselves. In the face of adversity, maintain optimism. When you believe in yourself and persevere, you become a prime candidate for success.

Difficulties along the road to entrepreneurial success can seem discouraging. However, if you regard every situation as a learning experience, you can develop the much needed personal skills that will help you build a successful business when you combine them with your expert knowledge.

Begin with the six useful skills listed here, and look for other tips for personal and professional growth along your pathway to success. Most importantly, remember to always improve and challenge yourself – there is no success for those who stand still.

Author bio: Natalie Smith, a freelance writer from Seattle, follows topics related to entrepreneurship, leadership, marketing, social media, and business in general. You can reach her @Natalie Smith

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