Here is what you really need to think about when buying health insurance:
1. Always ask for the general conditions or the policy wording – this document will provide you with crucial information such as the legally binding terms, exclusions, who is really financially behind the product, in sum the fine print that many do not want you to see.
2. Get feedback from people around you who currently have an individual policy. Do not ask people who have a group policy with their employer – that will not help you much as group plans receive a much better service from insurance companies simply because they are a big portfolio and therefore constitute an important client. For the rest of us mortals getting reimbursed is a never-ending challenge.
3. Another important aspect is the good will of the insurance company. While most have honest intentions, some don’t. Again, feedback from friends and family can help – bad reputations spread faster than good ones. Beware of expensive brochures and fancy ads that cost a lot, you’ll end up paying for it with expensive premiums and lousy service. When it comes to quick claim refunds, the French and the Swiss are at the top of the list. North American individual plans are significantly worse.
The crucial thing to remember is that health insurance is similar to a financial product that allows you to hedge against a big drop in your state of health for a small fee. But just like any product you buy, look at the benefits vs the premium – and not only just the cheap price or the appealing brochure.