Choosing Your Insurance – Tips From Your (Not So Local) Broker

Choosing Your Insurance – Tips From Your (Not So Local) Broker

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How To Pick Your Next Insurance Policy

** DISCLAIMER**: Every broker is different, as is every client, these are some tips and tricks I’ve personally found helpful.

Insurance, like so many things in life, is dependent upon personal preference and circumstance. With that being said, as working as an agent for a year and a broker for almost 4, I always let my clients know: Although I make recommendations, no one knows your needs better than yourself.

I recently chose to leave the insurance industry but thought I’d share some tips, tricks and just rules of thumb for choosing a plan from a professional and personal perspective. I hope you find this helpful in your next search for coverage!

Choosing Your Insurance – Tips From Your (Not So Local) Broker

1. Know What You Need

– Know what’s most important to you and prioritize. What/Who MUST you have coverage for? Things to consider would be:

  1. Your treatment plan
  2. Upcoming hospitalizations
  3. Physicians
  4. Hospitals

 2. Know Your Budget

-​ Nothing grinds my gears more than speaking with someone who has no input on cost. Unless you just have bags of money lying around somewhere, you should know how much you can afford to come out of your pocket. Things to consider would be:

  1. Would you rather pay more monthly to get a lower out of pocket for your visit?
  2. ​Is it highly likely you will have multiple hospitalizations in the year?
  3. Do you see a certain physician frequently? Can you afford to pay X amount of dollars every time you go?
  4. Can you afford to pay for your entire bill until your plan kicks in (at X amount of dollars)? – AKA deductible

 3. Know Your Wants

– So we’re all guilty of this right? Saying we absolutely NEED something that we actually want for convenience or just the satisfaction of having it. Really sit down and determine what you prefer in a plan but may be able to live without. Often times you can still have these things, but they just don’t need to be placed at the top of your list. A prime example of this would be networks. When I get on the phone with certain clients the first thing they yell out before I even introduce myself is “I DON’T WANT NO HMO! I NEED A PPO!” – More often than not, when I ask this participant what they don’t like about HMOs they respond with a bunch of misconceptions and assumptions. You don’t NEED a certain network unless your NEED certain physicians and they’re not accepting of the HMO. If you have all of your physicians AND hospitals in the network of an HMO and the coverage you want at an amazing price with worldwide emergency coverage included, what is the point of paying an extra $100/m for a PPO? (Exaggerating a little but still, I’ll wait). – Don’t get me wrong… This is not to say that network is insignificant in your coverage choice. This is just simply stating that while it may be personal preference to have a certain network, it may not be a reason to completely filter out others. Things to consider when addressing wants:

  1. Networks
  2. Providers that you like but do not need to see
  3. Providers you are considering seeing in the future
  4. Extra benefits like Silversneakers
  5. S0 deductibles
  6. Insurance company

Okay, you’ve considered those factors. Now what? Now it’s time to filter down your options. Maybe you’ve decided your physicians and hospitals are a must but you’re flexible on your network. Save your providers to your search. Seeing plans that don’t cover them all? Weed those out. UNLESS: If it’s a PPO plan that covers most of your physicians and you don’t mind paying the out of network cost share, keep it to the side for further consideration.

We’ve found your doctors! Now prescriptions! A lot of plan tools will show you if your prescription has any kind of restriction placed on it by the insurance company (ie: quantity limitations, prior authorization, ect ). Don’t be afraid of restrictions or cause these to turn you away from a certain plan. Restrictions are set in place to help you, and while they are not always convenient, if your physician provides proper documentation in a timely manner the insurance company should be able to get the request approved.

PLEASE NOTE: When reviewing tiers for your medications, each insurance company/ plan will determine their own tier for your medication. Just because your medication is a tier 2 on your current plan does not guarantee it’s a tier 2 under every plan. Nor does it have to remain in the same tier under your same plan for the following year. Be sure to review medications carefully when choosing coverage.

By now, you should have narrowed down your results quite a bit. By now you should only show plans in which cover all (or in your PPO case, most) of your physicians and all of your medications.

Now it’s time for benefits! If you’re just looking for the overall premium and rx cost in a year then organize your plans by yearly cost. If you’re like me, you are going to compare premium to benefit. I’d rather have a $300/m plan that covers my hospitalizations at no cost to me with a $0 deductible than a $50 plan with a $350 deductible and $900 out of pocket for each hospitalization – BUT that’s just personal preference. Think about the out of pocket you’re willing (and able) to deal with for routine visits to primary and specialists, then think about how much you would be able to pay out of your pocket in case of an emergency visit or hospitalization.

Once you find the benefits you like, look at the premium. Is the price worth the coverage?

These are just some things I go by when recommending coverage and choosing my own. I hope you found this helpful!


As always, thanks for reading. Before you go:

Who’s your favorite insurance company? Let me know in the comment section!





  • Posted January 5, 2017 6:58 pm 0Likes
    by Amy

    Luckily I’m from the UK so don’t need insurance, I’m so glad as it seems like a minefield!
    Amy xx

  • Posted January 6, 2017 5:00 am 0Likes
    by lucylovesbeautyxo

    Thank you for this. I live in the UK so have the NHS which we are so lucky to have here. I do however have private medical insurance as was pretty unwell as a kid… I have a medical condition now that was caused by child birth and my insurance doesn’t cover it, which is insane as I am in so much pain every day and have been for the last 4 years. The forceps in delivery dislocated my coccyx and it has hurt ever since xxxxx

    • Posted January 6, 2017 8:17 am 0Likes
      by shawnbethea1

      Oh goodness, I’m sorry to hear that! Well I hope this helps in your next search for private coverage

      • Posted January 6, 2017 8:33 am 0Likes
        by lucylovesbeautyxo

        Thank you, I need something. I spoke to the hospital yesterday and the consultant I was seeing has retired so I have to start the referral system again and will be up to another year before I can have another pain relief injection xxxxx

  • Posted January 6, 2017 8:27 pm 0Likes
    by Libby

    Posts like this make me realise how lucky I am to live in England with the NHS! This would be such a challenge for me haha!


  • Posted January 8, 2017 7:18 am 0Likes
    by Lisa

    Like everyone else, I’m from the UK. Health insurance looks like such a minefield. I did consider it at one stage when I had a better paying job but decided against as I’m happy with NHS treatment. But definitely great tips for me to consider if I ever do consider it again x

    • Posted January 8, 2017 10:39 am 0Likes
      by shawnbethea1

      Well that’s a good thing though! I’m really jealous I told my bf yesterday we should move! Lol

  • Posted January 9, 2017 6:02 am 0Likes
    by Steph's World

    This makes me realise how lucky I am to live in the UK.

    A great informative post for those who need insurance 🙂

    Steph x

    Steph’s World | Lifestyle Blog |

  • Posted January 12, 2017 4:11 pm 0Likes
    by Lisa Ehrman (@Lasehrman)

    This is a great post! I’m in the US, and recently had to purchase a plan. Our broker helped, but the red tape is very frustrating.

  • Posted January 12, 2017 9:07 pm 0Likes
    by Joye

    Thanks for the advice! The biggest problem we’re facing right now is that since we changed from our obamacare plan to our private insurance, I don’t need/want to go to the ghetto clinic I was going to before where I had to schedule appointments a month and a half in advance… there aren’t very many doctors in our network that are accepting new patients. I did some research on the two that were and the reviews were not nice. :/ Now we’re paying premium price for great coverage, but don’t have a primary care physician.

  • Posted June 27, 2017 4:04 pm 0Likes
    by Gloria Durst

    I agree that you need to consider the monthly premiums when choosing an insurance plan. It would make sense to consider the cost and benefit of a lower premium and higher deductible. My husband and I are looking for new insurance, so we’ll have to find a company that has a good monthly premium for us.

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