I have young kids. What’s the best plan for me?
Moms are often Health Care Central for their families. I know I am! With a husband and two kids under six, I’m the one who makes the appointments, fills the prescriptions and pays the bills.
As a member services rep, when I get calls from other moms, I always hear the same thing. Whether they’re asking if a new pediatrician is covered or whether we’ll pay for a hearing test, they want what’s best for their kids. If it’s easy, affordable and fits into their busy lives, even better.
Every family has different needs and different budgets. But here are three things I remind everyone trying to find the best plan for themselves and their little ones.
3 tips to finding the best plan for your family:
1. Kids use more care.
From regular check-ups and immunizations to pesky daycare colds and surprise high fevers, young kids generally use more care than healthy adults. And not only do they make more doctor visits, but they’re more likely to have more care that needs to happen right now. Even if “right now” is 3 a.m.
One night, my daughter couldn’t keep anything down. She had been crying for hours and the thermometer crept up to 104. The doctor’s office had long since closed for the day, but knowing the closest urgent care – and the emergency room, if needed – was covered by our health plan was reassuring.
Look past the monthly cost. I often hear from families who chose a plan because the monthly costs were low, only to be disappointed when they had to pay more than they expected each time they used care. For families with young kids, I usually recommend a plan with higher monthly costs, lower costs for care and a lower amount you have to pay before your plan starts helping with costs (deductible). If you use a lot of care, this will save you money and keep your budget more consistent.
2. Some kids’ care is free.
Thanks to the new health care law, all new plans now cover for free most of the routine, recommended doctor visits, immunizations and tests your child will need when you stay in-network.
When my daughter was an infant, she never got sick enough for an urgent care visit, but it seemed like we were always at the pediatrician’s office for a checkup or to get shots. It helped us get to know our pediatrician well, and we didn’t pay a penny to keep our little one healthy.
Get comfy with the list of free services. I advise parents shopping for plans to check out the free services covered by all plans to keep kids healthy. Ask the health insurance companies you're considering what they cover for free and how much other common kids’ services – like a doctor visit when the baby is sick – will cost on different types of plans.
3. Your pediatrician is a priority.
Your pediatrician is a key partner in keeping your child healthy and happy. It’s worth every minute to take the time to find a pediatrician who’s a good fit with your family and whose office location and hours fit your schedule.
Between all the visits with our two kids, our pediatrician is like a member of the family. When a job change a couple of years ago meant we had to switch our health plan, I panicked – would we have to find a new pediatrician? Luckily we found an option that would allow us to keep Dr. Johnson covered and on speed dial.
Make sure your pediatrician is covered. When you’re shopping for a plan, pick up the phone: If you already have a pediatrician you like, call the insurance company and have them check to make sure he or she is covered. Or if you’re in the market for a new pediatrician, see who the plan covers and make sure you can find someone who fits with your family.
Choosing a health plan for your family is an important decision. I encourage you to consult an adviser, plan representative or other trusted partner to help make the decision.
About Barb Breher
Barb Breher is a leader in the Member Services department at HealthPartners. She specializes in individual and family health plans. Barb loves helping members understand and use their coverage (it’s confusing!). When she’s not working, she loves relaxing and camping with her husband and two young daughters. Minnesota locals: she highly recommends Voyageurs National Park.