Choosing a healthcare advisor can be a daunting task for freelancers, especially in the United States where there are countless options to choose from.
It’s a messy insurance world where not much makes sense. All options ultimately appear the same and words like premium rate increase, deductibles and coinsurance are thrown around in marketing pitches. Health insurance jargon is confusing!
And through all the hassle, all you really want is the best bang for your buck on an insurance policy that’s going to cover you when you need it most.
There are just some things that cannot go without insurance. Your home, your vehicle, your phone, and too often last on that list, is your health! You know…your mind and body, the things that matter most, even over your material possessions.
People are more likely to insure their iPhone than their health. Let’s face it; if something happens and you can’t afford those pricey specialists, or physical therapy visits for a broken limb without health insurance, renewing your phone’s cracked-screen warranty will be the least of your concerns. Yet, most people neglect to get health insurance for as long as they can put it off. Or worse, they pick the worst coverage for the least premium and get confused when it doesn’t cover big medical bills. Why is that?
From my experience, it’s because it’s so darned confusing for the average consumer. At a glance, it can APPEAR very expensive. That’s because most consumers are not even aware of all their options, but there is a very simple solution.
Just like you’d consult with a doctor when you get sick, seek out the most experienced realtor when you want to buy your first home, or trust a financial advisor to manage and grow your wealth, you need to consult with a health insurance advisor when shopping around for your health insurance plan. Or, wind up with a coverage that doesn’t fit your needs, usually at more cost to you.
Especially if you’re a freelancer, because let’s admit it, it’s just a whole different ball game when you go from being employed to self-employed.
Licensed health advisors are more knowledgeable about the classifications and types of health insurance options out there and which category or type makes sense for you. For example, a terminally ill individual who requires frequent visits to large hospital systems does NOT have the same health insurance needs as a young healthy family who only goes in once a year for their annual check-up.
Did you know that there are plans available to fit the molds outside of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace, and outside of the traditional open-enrollment period? And the best part? It costs nothing to speak to a licensed health agent to get personalized quotes and learn your options. Their job is to help you find the plan that works best for you.
Here are a few key steps to consider to ensure that you select the right healthcare advisor for your needs.
Step 1: Determine your specific healthcare needs
Are you looking for someone to help you navigate the complex healthcare system? Do you need assistance with understanding and selecting the right insurance plan? Or are you looking for a more holistic approach to your healthcare, such as a wellness coach or a naturopathic doctor? Knowing what you need will help you narrow down your options and select the right healthcare advisor for you.
Step 2: Consider the qualifications and credentials
It is important to consider the experience of the healthcare advisor you are considering. You may want to look for someone who has experience working with clients who have similar healthcare needs to your own.
Additionally, look for healthcare advisors who have experience working with a variety of insurance companies. This can be especially helpful if you are looking for assistance with understanding and selecting an insurance plan that is tailor-made for you.
Step 3: Location and availability
Find a healthcare advisor who is conveniently located and easy to access, especially if you have mobility issues or other limitations. Are they available to help you virtually? Consider the availability of the healthcare advisor, including their hours of operation and availability for appointments.
Step 4: Costs
Many healthcare advisors will charge a fee for their services, and the cost can vary widely depending on the advisor and their qualifications. You may want to look for healthcare advisors who offer a sliding fee scale, and also ask about the cost of the services they provide before making your final decision.
Choosing a healthcare advisor in the United States can be a challenging task, but by determining your specific healthcare needs, considering the qualifications and credentials of the healthcare advisors you are considering, looking for experience and location, and evaluating the cost of their services, you can find the right healthcare advisor for you. Remember to ask for recommendations from friends and family, or look for reviews online.
As a certified public health professional specializing in global health practices, I have been able to systematically study healthcare systems across the world and analyze what works “best”. The United States uses a mix of delivery and payor systems borrowed from parts of Europe, Asia, and the Americas and clumsily integrates it into our federal and state structure of government, which respectively has varied influence and roles in healthcare delivery.
Furthermore, constantly-changing laws and the metamorphosis of the Affordable Care Act under different administrations make options change with the seasons. In short, this is very confusing for a consumer in terms of what they have access to at what time of the year.
A healthcare advisor can help you figure out your options with a short phone call where they will learn about your lifestyle and situation. Using that information, they can find the best, current options available, given your income and health status.
Get health insurance that makes sense for YOU.
What we needed yesterday is not the same as today. In this pandemic age, we see our health needs changing. Considering this, review all your options wisely. Ask as many questions as you have and make sure these are addressed before you make your final decision.
Dr. Noor is a medical doctor, certified public health professional, and licensed health insurance professional. She specializes in healthcare advisory while still practicing medicine.