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Does it matter who I'm buying health insurance from?


By Kate Sahnow
August 1, 2017

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Comparing health insurance companies is kind of like renting an apartment. The monthly rent matters, of course, but so do other things: Is the location convenient to work and daycare? What amenities does it have? Is there a gym in the building? How responsive will the landlord be if there’s a problem?

The bigger question here is, where should I buy my health insurance from?

Just like you wouldn’t choose an apartment based on price alone, it pays to look at features beyond the cost of a health plan. Here are some other things to consider when picking who to buy your plan from.

What kind of support do you get?

When you have questions about your plan, you need to find answers quickly and easily.

Find out:

  • How does their customer service staff rate?
  • Is there a free 24/7 nurse line?
  • Can you pay bills online?
  • Do they have a mobile app?

Do they offer health perks?

Many insurers offer benefits to help you stay healthy.

Find out:

  • As a member, do you get any discounts or freebies? They may offer incentives to get or stay healthy, like money off your gym memberships or discounts on fitness equipment.
  • What tools, programs and education do you get to support your family’s health and well-being? Find out if they offer free programs to quit smoking or manage conditions like diabetes – if that’s something you or your family would use.

How do they rate?

Do you rely on experts, Yelp reviews or your friends’ opinions when choosing restaurants? For quality information on health insurance companies, you can access public ratings collected by the National Committee for Quality Assurance. They measure how satisfied members are with a plan’s health care and doctors. They also track how well the plan does at offering preventive care and treating illnesses that appear suddenly (called acute conditions) or are ongoing (called chronic conditions).

Find out:

Where are they?

It may be a comfort to know that the people you talk to at your health insurance company work and live where you do.

Find out:

  • Where are they located? A personal connection to someone who’s experiencing the same weather conditions or who cares about what’s going on in your town can go a long way toward building trust.
  • Are they involved in the community? Local companies often support projects that help improve the health of their entire communities.

In the end, it’s not just about the cost of a plan. It’s about doing business with a company that shares your values and meets your unique needs.

About Kate Sahnow

Kate Sahnow is a HealthPartners Member Services leader supporting MNsure members through phone calls, email, chat, and walk-ins. Connecting members to support programs so they can achieve their best health is what makes her job so rewarding. Outside of work, Kate loves spending time with her husband, son Ethan, and daughter Cora. They are passionate about sustainability, own two electric vehicles, and enjoy taking yearly vacations to Ely, Minnesota.

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