Most people decide on a health insurance plan by comparing the costs of mainstream or offered plans with similar value. For many Americans, whose insurance is partially subsidized by an employer, they are relegated to choosing a plan from a narrow list of choices.
As our health care system evolves to fit the changing needs of our demographic-one with an increasing number of citizens who demand alternatives-it is important for other Americans to know that they can break out of the traditional mold, and begin exercising the option to making a health insurance choice that truly fits their lifestyle.
The most important step to making a better health insurance choice is to conduct a thorough self-evaluation. Many Americans have little concrete idea of their current expenditures. Barring the seriously ill, who may calculate high expenditures at tax time in order to maximize deductions, few others take the time to analyze how much they pay on an annual basis in one category vs. another.
For example, if you have a large, healthy family that is proactive about maintaining its health (e.g. staying current with physicals, seeking medical care in the event of mild illness, taking preventative measures), you are better off choosing a plan that gives you a break on doctor visit co-pays. Similarly, if you avoid going to the doctor and only seek medical care in extreme circumstances, you are better off making a health insurance choice that gives good emergency and acute care coverage.
The key is in understanding how much you currently pay out of pocket. Choose a plan that gives you the best value once you add up the total cost of monthly premiums and out of pocket expenses. Only when you optimize your entire picture will you get the best value for your money.