Ask yourself the following 10 questions to get over insurance inertia and better understand exactly what you need.
1. Do you currently have health insurance?
2. Do you know how your insurance policy works? What are the deductibles? What about co-pays and lifetime caps?
3. Do you ever worry that if you were to get hurt or become ill, you wouldn't be able to pay your medical bills? (Jean's take: This is no idle question. Roughly half of all bankruptcies filed in the United States are caused by illness and medical bills. Young people, especially, are tempted to "fly solo" because they are relatively healthy and feel they can't afford high premiums. In addition, people with coverage often find they're "underinsured" in the face of a major catastrophe. As difficult and expensive as buying the right health insurance can be, it can stave off even more financial disaster in the future. Plus, you'll sleep better at night.)
4. Are you in the midst of a major life change? Getting married, pregnant, retiring? All of these life events may mean you need a change in your insurance.
5. If you're insured by your employer, do you know all the plan options your company provides? Are you sure you have the right one for you? (Jean's take: It's important to make a list of the top five things that are important to you. That way you can choose a policy based on your needs, whether that means low premiums, good baby care or sticking with the doctor you've been seeing since college. Now is a great time to do this exercise if you're insured through your employer. This month, November, is often the open enrollment period at many companies—the once-a-year window when you can change your health benefits.
6. Do you have a preexisting condition? (Jean's take: That can make it extremely difficult to get new coverage on your own, but many states offer coverage for high-risk consumers. Go to your state's insurance website for more information.)
7. What do you (or a family member) need in the way of prescription drugs?
8. Do you let insurance paperwork such as filing claims, appealing payment decisions, etc. pile up? Why?
9. In your opinion, what's the most intimidating thing about dealing with health insurance?
10. Who can help you understand the insurance maze? A trusted nurse or doctor friend? Your company's benefits department?