Student Health Insurance
STUDENT HEALTH INSURANCE
All eligible students of EKU may utilize Student Health Services, which is supported by a portion of the tuition costs. While we strive to meet the majority of general health care needs of our students, our services are limited. For a full list of the services we provide, please visit our web site at http://www.healthservices.eku.edu/ .
How to Evaluate Health Insurance Companies is information found at http://www.healthinsuranceindepth.com. I think you will find the information in this document helpful as you make decisions regarding purchase of a student health insurance plan. There are numerous internet web sites that offer student health insurance plans.
College students, particularly those over 26, may not be covered by their parents' insurance policy once they leave home. Happily, the cost of student health insurance is very reasonable. A college student away from home and without health insurance can easily spend more money on health care for a bout of influenza or other illness, or for a broken leg than the annual cost of a student health insurance policy itself.
How to Evaluate Health Insurance Companies
Finding a health policy that meets your cost and coverage needs is a difficult task. But the work doesn't stop there. To ensure the best care, it's wise to evaluate both the company and its affiliate health care network.
There are at least three distinct areas that you'll want to investigate when researching health insurance companies:
- the insurer's financial rating
- the quality of health care it provides
- its overall customer-satisfaction rating
Lets take a quick look at each of them, one by one:
A company's financial ratings
One crucial measure of any health insurance company is its financial reputation. This is easy to research using free resources like Moody's, A.M. Best and Weiss, all of which publish health insurance company ratings and information. You can obtain health insurance company ratings up front, before you apply, by going to www.eHealthInsurance.com, a large on line health insurance marketplace.
+ Quality of care under a particular policy
What could be more important? Under an indemnity insurance plan, you select your doctor, so if you are not satisfied with the quality of health care you are receiving, it is easy to switch physicians. Under a managed care health policy, however, the network of doctors you'll be working with is pre-selected. Trusting the physicians and feeling confident about the care you're receiving is invaluable.
Check the employment and educational histories of the network's doctors.
The American Medical Association provides information about any physician. The Directory of Medical Specialists, which can be found at your local library, lists information about doctors too. Use these free resources to your advantage. (Keep reading to learn about other sources of info.)
How quickly health insurance companies respond to patients' requests and questions is important.
You'll be in contact with your insurer often enough, so good communication can make a huge difference.
Although this is a hard area to gauge before you actually purchase a policy, you can still get a sense by calling the health insurance company's customer service representative with a question.
Does it take them long to answer your question? Are you put on hold? If you request information to be sent to you, how long does it take?
You can also try to "test" commitment to satisfaction. Ask a health insurance company representative if you can switch primary care physicians mid policy year? If not, they may be inflexible about other personal concerns and indifferent about your health care needs.
Unfortunately, while financial information about a health insurance company is fairly easy to come by, specific measures of patient satisfaction with a particular health policy are not. You'll probably have to pay for this information.
Consumer Check or Consumer Reports both offer heath insurance company and health policy evaluations for a fee. We recommend applying for a couple of health plans, seeing what fits your budget (and your care needs), then checking them against each other using a paid service.
You can also do your own research into which companies and plans are better for you, by using the questions we provide in our guide to the various types of health plans. This will take some work, but it will help you learn first-hand how health insurance companies differ.
10 Essential Ingredients of a Good Plan
This is especially important if you are purchasing your policy from a new and unfamiliar company, but it's still always wise to check out any provider's health insurance ratings to make sure you are dealing with a valid and trustworthy business. Remember, before insurers agree to insure anyone, they investigate the applicant and the applicant's background. You should put them to the same test. Look for insurer and health insurance ratings through A.M. Best, Moody's, or Wiess rating agencies.
2. The Lifetime Payout
In the event of a catastrophic illness, your policy needs to provide a sufficient amount of health care coverage. However, to protect itself from ever having to pay too much, your insurer limits the lifetime payout. Therefore, lifetime payout is the maximum amount of reimbursement the health insurance company provides during your lifetime. $1 million is a good figure. Anything less and you run the risk of prematurely depleting the entire reserve for health care costs available to you, while aiming for a higher limit might make finding an inexpensive health insurance plan too difficult.
3. Largest deductible and co-payment you can afford
Setting a high deductible and high co-payment will lower your premium payments significantly. Although out-of-pocket medical costs will be higher, (and don't agree to a policy that puts these figures out-of-reach) this rule is key to bagging those inexpensive health insurance plans that are out there.
4. Reasonable out-of-pocket limit
This policy provision limits your out-of-pocket payments per year. It is especially important in the event of a serious illness, and we recommend that you consider only policies that carry one. However, it's wise to consider that setting a low maximum will increase the amount you pay in premiums. Try to establish a reasonable out-of-pocket maximum to balance risk with cost.
5. Waiver of premium provision
A waiver of premium provision allows you to skip premium payments during lengthy illness. Although not absolutely necessary, the provision is beneficial should an illness prevent you from working for an extended period of time. (And it isn't extremely important if you are reasonably certain that you'll be able to make the premium payments somehow, although you should never count on this.)
6. Renewable provision
The renewable provision is a must. It guarantees that your health insurance policy will be available for you to renew, even if you have been ill. You may be required to continue paying your premiums while ill (unless the health insurance includes the waiver of premium provision too), but you won't lose your coverage.
7. Timely coverage of pre-existing conditions
Often insurers require a waiting period before covering the health care costs for pre-existing health problems. Although it is standard for them to assign a waiting period, it should never be over a year. After picking through all the health insurance plans that satisfy your other requirements, check to see that the waiting period is between three months and a year.
8. Emergency coverage
Your policy must cover emergency medical services. In the past, some managed care plans were criticized because they required the primary care physician to approve emergency health care. This tactic may save money, but emergency care shouldn't be jeopardized. Read through your health insurance plan paying special attention to the definition of emergency, and verify with the health insurance company what is exactly covered. If you have access to health insurance ratings, take note of this factor.
9. Few prerequisites
Prerequisites are requirements you must first fulfill before receiving medical attention. Health insurance plans with too many prerequisites are too restrictive. A policy with a few prerequisites is fine - it's how the company survives (and how you get a low cost health insurance policy), but good health care should never be sacrificed. Deciding on what is too many is a bit subjective, but if it seems to you that the policy requires you to jump through too many hoops, then you may want to look elsewhere (or simply at a slightly different policy from the same insurer).
10. Use online resources to find the best health insurance plans
The internet is a great source for health insurance ratings, learning centers, and comparisons, but it's a great place to shop too. You won't feel pressured into buying a "hard sell" policy, and you can take your time and really comparison shop for the best reasonably priced health insurance policy.