Being in a layoff could be a stressful situation if you are not sure when or where your next job would be. But what’s more stressful is the realization that your company was paying for your health insurance and now you’re out there without one! Health insurance seems to be becoming more and more complicated. As policies shift and politics wraps itself closer to healthcare, how do you even know where to begin? If you’re like most Americans, you’re intimidated by the thought of taking your health insurance into your own hands. You don’t feel equipped to make these types of decisions, and that often leads you to lack confidence in your own coverage.


No matter how healthy you are at the moment, you need to prioritize your future health. There’s no way to know what tomorrow will bring. To be safe, you need coverage you can count on. Unfortunately, the health insurance landscape is a tricky place to navigate on your own. This guide will shed light on how to pick the right health insurance company no matter your budget or situation.

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1. Search For Your Marketplace

You have two main options to start your search: use your employer, or your local marketplace. If you have access to plans through your employer, this is the best place to start. Employer plans are usually the most cost-effective since your employer will subsidize some of the cost. However, if you’re self-employed, unemployed, or a small business employee, you might be on your own.

Have no fear. You still have options. Even if your employer does offer plans, you might still qualify for a lower-cost plan through your local marketplace. To begin, find your local marketplace online. You can find a list of all insurance companies on Health Markets to have a comprehensive view of options. From there, narrow down to providers in your local area. (target:

Some states offer their own marketplace, but most just go through the federal program. You can purchase a plan through the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) if you qualify. Otherwise, you can access private exchanges for local plans you can purchase independently.


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2. Compare Plan Types

You’ll likely discover you only have a few providers available in your area in addition to federal programs. This means your next step is to consider what type of plan is the best fit for you. This is where many people get confused. These plans easily blur together, and it’s hard to know what they really mean. Let’s break each one down into simple terms:

    • Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) – An HMO requires you to stay in-network for coverage, though the cost is generally lower and you work through a primary doctor.
    • Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) – With a PPO, you don’t need to stay in-network for coverage. While more expensive, this is the most flexible plan type.
    • Point of Service Plan (POS)You also don’t have to stay in-network with a POS, but you will need a referral to see a specialist
    • Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO)Finally, with an EPO you do need to stay in-network, but you can see a specialist without a referral. This is also a low-cost option if you already have a doctor you wish to see regularly.

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3. Know Your Network

If you decide to go with an in-network provider plan, you can expect to pay less overall. However, if you choose a plan that allows you to see out-of-network providers, you’ll still want to stay in-network to save the most money on services. Either way, you need to take a closer look into the particular network of each provider.

Insurance companies negotiate lower costs with certain in-network providers. You’ll need to check that your preferred doctor or specialist is included in-network if you want to save the most money. You can start by directly asking your doctor what insurance they accept. Beyond this, you should find these providers listed on each insurance plan’s website.

If you don’t already have a preferred doctor, you have more flexibility. Still, you’ll likely want to choose a provider that has a wider network so you can choose a quality provider near you. Eliminate any plans with limited provider options.


Choose with Confidence

In a country where the average American spends an average of $9,900 a year on healthcare spending, it pays to choose the right insurance plan. Knowing the best insurance companies in your area is only half the battle. You need to be proactive with educating yourself about different plans, networks, and benefits.

At the end of the day, you’ll need to compare your premiums, deductibles, and overall costs. Healthcare might be a bit complicated, but it’s not impossible. Your health is the most important thing you have. It’s time you put it first by choosing the best insurance provider.