Tips for Replacing Health Coverage in the us

Whether you just got a major rate increase from your health insurance company or you changed jobs and can’t afford the ridiculous rates that your company is charging you under COBRA; replacing your health coverage can be a scary prospect.

Here are some quick tips that will make it easier:

1) Quickly review your current coverage – what copays do you have, what is your deductible, do you have coinsurance – most of this can be obtained from your insurance card, your policy, or the insurance company.

2) Decide if you are willing to make changes to save money. Do you really need copays? Higher deductibles? Family deductible or individual deductible? Are you willing to change doctors or do you want to keep the one you have?

3) Gather information – to get a quote from an insurance company they will need to know the following things: name, sex, age, tobacco user or not, height, weight, information about any medications you may be taking, any illnesses/injuries/surgeries in the last 10 years. You will need this information for yourself and all family members who will be insured.

4) Get a quote – you can do this on-line or with an insurance agent. Some company websites will give you a quote and others will direct you to an agent or will have their agent call you. You will need to have all the above information in #3 ready; plus, you will need to give them information on what you are looking for – same benefits, lower premium, higher deductible, different type plans, etc. The more info you can give them; the better they will be able to help you.

5) Once you have your quote:

A) You will need to have information about your doctor (and your family’s doctors). Name, address, phone #, and date last seen.
B) Names of all medications you are taking; how often you take them, and the condition they treat.
C) Approximate dates you (and family members) received treatment for various conditions. Examples – broken arm, occurred 10/2002 and fully recovered 01/2003 OR high blood pressure, diagnosed 03/1997 and last seen by doctor 10/2007
D) Be honest on the application – insurance companies do verify doctors records and check with the Medical Information Bureau. If you don’t tell them about one thing and they find out, they will start digging to try to find out what else you didn’t tell them.
E) If you have not seen a doctor in a couple of years, you can expect that the insurance company will require a paramed exam (mini-physical). This is usually paid for by the company and it is scheduled by a paramed company. You can expect them to check all of your vital statistics (height, weight, blood pressure, etc) and take a urine and/or blood sample.

6) Warn your doctors office that a request for your records will be arriving soon. Some doctor’s offices will send out copies the same day and others will not send them out for weeks! But, if they know it is coming and how important it is to you, they will usually respond faster.

Following these simple tips will speed the replacement of your health insurance; but, it does take time so be sure you start shopping for a replacement policy as soon as possible. As an insurance agent, I have seen health applications approved within 10 days and I have also seen them take as long as 8 weeks (the doctor wasn’t sending the records). The average is 4 – 6 weeks; but, this is speeding up as companies become more and more automated.