Prepare to make a health insurance decision

Making a health insurance decision can be confusing and complicated. The best way to begin this process is to gather important information for you and your family.

The Affordable Care Act states that all Americans must have some type of health insurance by March 2014 or face a penalty. So how does someone who has never had health insurance prepare to buy health insurance? And how do we know how much coverage one will need? One of the first steps one should take is to pull together important documents related to any health care costs one may have had in the previous years. The more information you have the better choice you can make.

Gathering information is an important step in preparing to choose a health care plan. Pull together any monthly explanation of benefits from health insurance companies received in the previous year. Gather prescription records or receipts of all prescriptions you are taking. List out how many prescription drugs you and your family take and how much it costs you. Review your check register or credit card statements for any health-related expenses. Also, take a look at your calendar for the past year and note all the medically-related appointments including dental and vision.

Begin by listing your current primary doctor and any specialists you may be seeing. Also, note how many times you or any of your family members have seen these doctors. Add to your list how many times you or your family members visited the urgent care walk-in clinic and how many times you went to the emergency room. Then, think about any health concerns you may be facing or considering treatment for in the coming year.

Gathering this type of information will provide you with important information to make a decision about the best plan for you and your family. Michigan State University Extension is providing weekly webinars about how to make a Smart Choice in buying health insurance. The webinars are free to anyone and can be seen online at at 9 a.m., 3 p.m., or 6 p.m. EST every Monday.

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