The premium isn't everything
Every health insurance plan includes a number of variables, so just looking at the monthly payment, or premium, doesn't tell the whole story.
To determine whether a plan fits your situation, you must understand the big picture. That includes the annual deductible, which is the amount a consumer must pay out of pocket before the insurance company will pay any expenses.
"If you are a healthy person, there is no reason to have a deductible lower than $5,000," says Ashley Hunter, president of HM Risk Group, a niche insurance brokerage serving the U.S. and the Middle East.
"Purchase a policy with a higher deductible and an option that allows you to have at least two doctor visits with a copayment for emergencies," she says, adding that you might then invest your premium savings.
People who seek health care regularly should look for a low copayment, which is a fixed out-of-pocket charge for medical services.
"We find that if you tend to use your health insurance, it is almost always cheaper to take a higher-cost plan with the lowest out-of-pocket expenses," says John Seltzer, founder and CEO of J. Seltzer Associates, a Pittsburgh-based insurance brokerage specializing in employee benefits.