This article was first posted March 1, 2008.
Getting A Good Deal On Your Health Insurance is a well-researched and well-written book on a subject that bedevils many early retirees. Jonathan Pletzke wrote the book after he suffered a few of the common problems people encounter obtaining health insurance outside of an employer's group plan. After one employer folded, he even ended up with a health "benefits" company that turned out to be a scam. (The leaders of the "benefits" company were later charged with criminal offenses.) Eventually, Pletzke moved from Maryland to North Carolina where he found very reasonable health insurance premiums for him and his family (who are in excellent health.)
The author emphasizes that health insurance (for anyone with any property or savings) is, first and foremost, protection against financial ruin. It's more important to check on how a policy covers a catastophic illness than routine check-ups and preventitive care. Today, even a health insurance policy with a $1 million or $2 million lifetime limit might not be enough to prevent your family's bankruptcy in the event of an extensive hospital stay.
Pletzke does an excellent job explaining health insurance jargon. He provides some wonderful charts in Chapter 2 that illustrate the interplay between annual deductibles, co-insurance, annual out-of-pocket maximums, and lifetime policy limits. The author points out that you can't even begin to shop for insurance without making a detailed comparison between policies. Towards that end, he provides a helpful Excel spreadsheet on his website. Click here.
Getting A Good Deal On Your Health Insurance contains a wealth of useful information in a logical, easily readable format. It's highly recommended.
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