So you’ve been offered a job with benefits. Great! Before you accept, ask the right questions about the health insurance plans being offered. You don’t want to find yourself without coverage or facing costs you didn’t expect after you’re on the job.
- Is there a waiting period?
Some companies make new employees wait a specific period before being added to the health insurance plan. If you weren’t expecting that, you could be without coverage for months. If you are leaving a job in which you have health insurance benefits, you might be eligible to continue coverage. You also should check out what’s available on the federal health exchange at healthcare.gov.
- What will this cost?
Ask about monthly premiums, copayments, deductibles, and out-of-pocket maximums. If you’re responsible for a monthly premium, find out how much and if it’s a payroll deduction. Find out what the deductible—the amount you have to spend personally before the insurance plan starts to pay—includes, such as doctor visits and prescription drugs. Ask about copays—how much you have to pay at the doctor even after meeting your deductible.
- Can I see a summary?
It’s hard to dig through all the fine print, especially if you’re trying to compare one plan to another. Most employers have a summary of the benefits and coverage under the plans they offer. If you have health issues, this can answer many questions about how you might fare with your specific concerns.
- What kind of network is this?
Every company’s health insurance plan has different rules for how you can access covered care. For instance, a health maintenance organization lets you see doctors and hospitals in its network, which are providers that agree to see members of a health plan and offer preferred rates. Alternatively, a preferred provider organization typically offers a wider network and more coverage but usually at a higher price. Find out if you can see your current doctors and health care professionals under your new health insurance plan.
- Where does the insurance work?
Do you travel frequently out of your region or state? Internationally? Ask about geographic restrictions on using your insurance.
- Are there discounts and other perks?
Some companies offer “wellness discounts” for joining a gym, not smoking, and other incentives. If you’re covered under a parent’s or spouse’s policy, your employer might offer money for you to waive its coverage.
- Who can I cover?
Does the plan cover just you? Can you add kids, a spouse, a domestic partner? If so, at what cost?
- What about dental and vision?
Find out if you need separate plans for coverage for your eyes and teeth.
Don’t ruin the excitement of a new job with health insurance surprises. Do your homework on your options before accepting that job offer so you can enjoy a balanced budget and good health.
You can find answers to more insurance questions at Healthcare.gov.