These days, it is important to protect yourself and your loved ones from health problems and the financial entanglements that often accompany them by getting quality health insurance. For many consumers, getting a health plan is all about the monthly premium, provider network and coverage benefits, but you should also consider the reputation of the company that is selling you that policy. The 35 health insurance companies in the U.S. comprise a large industry with some companies providing better service than others.
It may take some additional work to learn how an insurance carrier is thought of by its customers, but that extra effort is probably worth it, if you can find a company that truly values its customers. You may learn that some companies are less willing to offer reimbursement for certain types of claims, or require you to fill out stacks of paperwork first. Finding an insurer that you can trust when you are going through a medical emergency is a great asset.
Word of Mouth
For most people, the most reliable way to find a trustworthy insurer is simply by asking friends and family who they use. In many ways, this is an excellent way to find a good insurer because they are likely to give you an unbiased opinion. The people you trust are unlikely to be swayed by third parties or business interests, so they can share honest opinions without fear of consequences.
However, there are also some drawbacks to relying on the opinions of others. First of all, they are only one person with a limited amount of interaction with their insurer. One or two very good or bad experiences with an insurer may color their opinion, but those experiences may not represent the company. You probably don’t want to ignore an excellent company merely because of a minor misunderstanding.
Taking on the advice of a few trusted friends is a good starting point, but it shouldn’t be the end of your search. It is important to get a broad cross-section of opinions from many diverse viewpoints, and one of the most powerful tools you can use to get those is through social media sites like Facebook or Google+. Millions of people use these sites daily, so finding an opinion about a health insurer is more than easy.
Like most things on the internet, online opinions should be carefully considered. While most reviews are honest and accurate, some may have ties to the reviewed company or to its competitors. In some cases, positive reviews may have been solicited or selected for online publication, while negative reviews may be part of a campaign to undermine a competitor. The best way to get an accurate picture of a company is to visit a number of social media sites to get the broadest number of opinions.
You may also use the internet to search for news stories about prospective health insurance companies. Although most news articles are negative in subject matter (or they wouldn’t be news worthy), you can learn a lot about a company’s history and reputation. A simple Google search may reveal a horde of details about an insurer including pending or completed lawsuits, major claims or financial health.
Consumer Watchdog Groups
One of the most important tools available to consumers is the Better Business Bureau. This consumer watchdog group has been providing free reviews and ratings for more than a hundred years. This nonprofit agency also lists complaints against insurers, government actions and marketing reviews. The Better Business Bureau also offers accreditation to companies that meet its high standards. You can visit the Better Business Bureau website www.bbb.org and learn more about health insurers free of charge.
Another great resource is the nonprofit publication Consumer Reports. A trusted publication for more than 80 years, Consumer Reports offers unbiased ratings on a variety of health care products, services and companies including insurers. Consumer Reports prides itself on its editorial independence and is considered a gold standard among consumer groups. You may visit the Consumer Reports website to view it health insurance ratings and reviews.
The financial health of an insurance company is often a key insight into their long term viability—you don’t want a policy from a company that can’t make payouts—so if you can learn more about their finances, it may make your decision easier. A. M. Best is an independent credit rating agency for the insurance industry that has been making financial evaluations for more than a century. They offer free analyses of health insurers with outlooks ranging from one to three years. You can visit the A.M. Best website to learn more about their services.
Finally, you have the option of reading the reviews of insurer customers. These opinions are based on personal experiences, so they may be more emotionally compelling than industry ratings, but remember they may reflect only isolated incidents rather than a comprehensive picture of the insurer. If you go to the insurance company’s website, you may only find positive customer reviews that only give you a one-sided perspective.
To avoid only getting half of the story, you can visit customer review websites. There are many of these sites including Consumer Affairs and Top Ten Reviews. Although all of these websites purport to be independent and fair, many of them may have hidden relationships with the companies they are reviewing, as evidenced by the insurance ads they support, so you may be hesitant to trust them completely.
You will find reviews written by health insurer customers in addition to comparative ratings, plan options, and other company information on these review sites. Much of this information may provide a snapshot into plan pricing and benefits, as well as a look at how these health insurers treat their customers.
If you would like to discuss your health insurance options with one of the industry’s most trusted companies, Boost Health Insurance is always here to help.