Health insurance is a big ball of wax—so big, in fact, that many of us put it on the back burner rather than deal with it—but it's one of the most important decisions you'll ever make. Think about it: Your entire family's well-being depends on it.

There's a good reason why you're procrastinating. "Insurance has its own language and it's complicated to translate that into real language," says Kimberly Lankford, author of The Insurance Maze: How You Can Save Money on Insurance and Still Get the Coverage You Need. To stay motivated, it helps to remember that insurance protects not only your health but your entire financial plan. Nothing is more devastating to your bank account than a stack of uncovered hospital and doctor bills.

And even if you have insurance, healthcare bills can pop up everywhere—from services that aren't covered to doctor and hospital co-pays to prescription drug fees. That's why it's so important for every woman to become a savvy health consumer.

Two vital things to keep in mind:

  • Don't be afraid to negotiate with your doctor when you're paying out-of-pocket. In a recent Harris Interactive poll, three out of five people who did so received a discount. With the cost of a single office visit often costing more than $200, it's definitely worth a try.
  • Shop for the best prescription prices. Even people with employer coverage have to be smart shoppers for prescription drugs, especially if they have a regular medication that is expensive, says Lankford. Keep your costs low by shopping around (prices can vary among pharmacies—your best bet is a discount store or price club), using less expensive mail-order services where possible, and asking for generics whenever available.
Use this Money Group guide to help you and members of your group get over healthcare inertia and get on with one of the most important decisions you'll ever make. In the following sections you'll learn how to narrow down the choices and choose the health insurance that is best for you and your family.
Please note: This is general information and is not intended to be legal advice. You should consult with your own financial advisor before making any major financial decisions, including investments or changes to your portfolio, and a qualified legal professional before executing any legal documents or taking any legal action. Harpo Productions, Inc., OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Discovery Communications LLC and their affiliated companies and entities are not responsible for any losses, damages or claims that may result from your financial or legal decisions.


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