Understanding Health Insurance Part 3: How to Select the Best Plan

Welcome to the final post in our 3-part, “Understanding Health Insurance” blog series. We have covered vocabulary and acronyms in parts 1 and 2, and now we are going to tell you how to select the best plan for you!

Finding a good health plan is about balance. How much you are paying per month compared to how much healthcare you think you and your family will need throughout the year. Before selecting a plan, some self-reflection may help.

While it can be hard to know what healthcare expenses to anticipate throughout the year, and therefore what plan to select, you can get a general idea of costs based on previous years. Do you go to the doctor regularly? Do you have a pre-existing condition? Do you anticipate expanding your family this year? All good questions to ask yourself when picking a plan. Answers to these questions, and others, can help you decide between plans that have lower monthly premiums and higher out of pocket costs or higher monthly premiums and lower out of pocket costs. Again, it is all about trying to find the right balance and saving you the most money.

When choosing a health insurance plan start by reading through the summary of benefits. Whether you are signing up for insurance through an employer, the government, or through school, a summary of benefits should be available for you to compare your options. The summary of benefits will explain the costs associated with each plan and what it covers.

Some items to look for when comparing options:

  • Monthly Premiums – How much is this going to cost you per month?
    • Higher premiums might be better if:
      • You see a primary physician or specialist frequently.
      • You frequently need emergency care.
      • You take expensive or brand-name medications on a regular basis.
      • You have a planned surgery coming up.
      • You have been diagnosed with a chronic condition such as diabetes.
    • Lower premiums might be a better option if:
      • You can’t afford the higher monthly premiums.
      • You’re in good health and rarely see a doctor outside of your yearly visit.
    • Out-of-Pocket Costs – Compare costs such as copays, deductibles, prescription coverage etc. to get a better idea of what healthcare is going to cost you in addition to the monthly premium.
    • Type of Insurance Plan – Refer back to our acronyms cheat sheet. What do your options look like?
    • Provider Network – Do you already have an established network of preferred doctors? If so, check to see if your new plan covers these practitioners. If not, you may need to look at a different plan or start looking for new in-network practitioners.
    • Benefits – What all is included in the plan? Some options may have better coverage and might include things like physical therapy, fertility treatments or mental health care, emergency coverage, etc. What services do you anticipate needing? This might help to narrow down which plan is right for you.

There are lots of things to consider when signing up for a health insurance plan, including health status, dependent status, and budget. What type of coverage you need is going to change throughout your life. Do your research so that you are prepared ahead of enrollment periods to make the best selection for what you need in the moment.

Ohio State students are required to hold some kind of health insurance. If you are an international student, you are required to sign up for insurance through the Student Health Insurance policy. If you are a domestic student enrolled in a degree program and enrolled in at least six (6) credit hours for undergraduates, at least four (4) credit hours for graduate and professional students and at least three (3) credit hours for post-candidacy doctoral students are automatically enrolled in this insurance plan. Domestic students have the option to withdraw from the Student Health Insurance plan if they have coverage elsewhere. For more information on Student Health Insurance visit the Student Health Insurance website and read their FAQs page for answers to common questions.


Health Insurance Literacy: Student Health Insurance (osu.edu)

Understanding Health Insurance (medicalbillingandcoding.org)

How to Choose Health Insurance: Your Step-by-Step Guide – NerdWallet

-Jordan Helcbergier, Wellness Coordinator

One thought on “Understanding Health Insurance Part 3: How to Select the Best Plan

  1. The concept of insurance is rooted in the principle of spreading risk across a large pool of individuals. This risk-sharing mechanism is the foundation of insurance, allowing for the equitable distribution of the financial burden associated with unexpected events. In this way, insurance embodies a communal approach to risk management, emphasizing the collective responsibility of a group to support its members in times of need.Texas Insurance Education For Consumers

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