Physicians Mutual Senior Vice President Bob Gunia returns to Hallmark Channel’s Home & Family to answer questions and demystify insurance. For more insights, check out these common Q&A’s to help you make confident decisions about your coverage for both health and life.
What’s the difference between a health insurance deductible and a co-payment? Deductibles and co-payments (also called coinsurance) are common cost-sharing features of many health insurance plans. A deductible is a set amount you must pay each year before your insurance kicks in. For instance, if your plan has an annual deductible of $1,000, and your first doctor bill of the year is $400, you would be responsible for paying the entire amount out of pocket. If you have a second doctor visit that results in a $700 bill, you would be responsible for the $600. Your insurance would then help pay the amount over $1,000 — in this case, $100.
However, once you’ve met your annual deductible, you may still have a co-payment until you’ve met your plan’s annual out-of-pocket maximum. Your co-payment is a set amount you pay each time you receive a certain type of service from a health care provider. Amounts of deductibles, co-payments and annual out-of-pocket maximums vary by insurance plan.
What should I look for when buying dental insurance? If you’re looking for dental insurance, it’s important to understand what you’re buying.
Second, understand that most dental insurance policies have waiting periods for things like crowns and root canals. These waiting periods help keep your premium costs affordable. Some policies do offer immediate coverage for preventive care.
Third, many dental insurance policies have deductibles and annual maximums, which put a cap on how much your insurance will pay in a year’s time. Look for dental coverage with no deductibles and no annual maximum on the amount of benefits you can get.
Finally, if being able to choose your own dentist is important to you, be sure to look for dental insurance with a large provider network. In most cases, you’ll save money by seeing a dentist within the plan’s network.
What is term life insurance? Whether you’re thinking about buying life insurance for the first time or adding more coverage to your existing insurance, you’ll need to determine what kind of coverage is best for your situation. You have two overall options: term life insurance and whole life insurance.
Term life insurance provides protection for a specific amount of time (such as 10, 15 or 20 years). Once the term is over, your insurance policy ends and you are no longer covered.
Term life insurance normally costs less than whole life insurance and often offers a higher benefit amount. That means you have more coverage when you may have more financial obligations, such as house payments, a spouse who depends on your income, or car payments and other loans.
In addition, some term life insurance policies come with an additional Return of Premium Rider. That means you can receive a refund of all the premiums you’ve paid if you outlive your term coverage. Some term insurance policies offer you the option to convert your coverage to whole life insurance.
What is whole life insurance? Whole life insurance is coverage you can own for your entire lifetime. As renewal premiums are paid, your insurance policy accumulates equity (called cash value) that gives you added money you can use in an emergency (borrowing money from your insurance is called a policy loan).
Because whole life insurance can offer permanent protection, it can be there through all stages of life.
Along with offering permanent protection and the safety net of cash value, whole life insurance normally has no renewal rate increases, which can make it easier to budget.
What should I look for in an insurance agent? A good insurance agent is there to listen and educate — not just sell you something. Here are three key indicators that will help you determine if an agent is working in your best interest:
• Are they listening to you? A good agent will ask you questions, taking care to fully understand your specific needs and concerns before making any recommendations.
• Are they good at explaining the details of your coverage options? An agent who is knowledgeable about the company’s products will be able to explain everything you need to know — in a way that’s easy to understand.
• Are they willing to address all your questions and concerns? An agent who is genuinely interested in helping you will welcome your questions and spend as much time as needed to answer and address your concerns.
Remember: If an agent immediately or continually pushes to make a sale, they may not have your best interest in mind. Don’t be afraid to walk away.