As an Owner/Operator, you are tasked with operating a business and driving professionally. That is two full time jobs and we know it’s just the beginning. Without having an HR department behind your operation to interpret, compare and understand the differences between plans and regulations you run the risk of not getting the plan that best serves your needs.
We talked with industry experts to help you navigate what to look for when selecting the right benefit plan and summarized it into seven things Owner/Operators (and really anyone) should know to look for before buying insurance.
1. Open Enrollment Windows
Be mindful of open enrollment windows and timeframes for health care, the Federal Marketplace has annual enrollment windows for individuals that traditionally fall November 1st – December 15th. This year they opened up a unique COVID SEP (special enrollment period) for those that did not elect medical the opportunity to shop February 15th- May 15th. (www.healthcare.gov) There are programs that are exclusively for Owner Operator Divisions that do not confine open enrollments. This offers you the flexibility you need as a business owner.
2. Healthcare Terminology: Deductibles, Co-Insurance and Copay. What Does This Mean?
Understanding the various terms associated with health insurance plans can help people make the best decision for themselves and their families. Knowing the difference between deductibles, co-insurance, and copays are essential when making such significant decisions.
- Deductible: is the amount of money that an insured person (or family) pays, per year, for eligible medical services and medications before their health insurance plan kicks in for a shared expense.
- Example: Your plan comes with a $3,500 deductible, this means you will cover the costs yourself for the first $3,500 of care that you require each year. A variety of services might be counted toward reaching the deductible, including (but not limited to) surgery, lab tests, hospitalizations, and medical devices. After you reach your deductible amount, your insurance plan will start to pay for care.
- Co-Insurance: after your deductible is met, co-insurance becomes a factor in paying for your medical care. Simply put, co-insurance is the percentage portion of your medical cost that you must pay.
- Example: co-insurance rate is 30%. This means that, for a covered medical expense, you will pay 30% and your insurance company will pay the remaining 70%.
- Copays: are set fees that you pay each time you visit the doctor or get a prescription filled. Depending on your plan, copays might (or might not) count toward your deductible, and not all services might have a copay. As with all things, it is essential to read the fine print and understand the terms of your health insurance plan before seeking needed medical care.
3. Telemedicine Appointments
You’re on the road without the luxury of taking an afternoon off to see a doctor. Telemedicine appointments allow drivers to check in for situations where they may not necessarily need to be seen in person or just need a prescription. The best plans will offer telemedicine with zero copays.
4. Large/National Network
There are a variety of medical benefits programs available and it’s important as you consider the best option for you to review the network. As a professional driver you need coverage that offers you flexibility and will provide the necessary coverage while on the road.
5. Flexible Plans
A common problem with insurance plans is paying “more for less”, overpaying for inadequate coverage for a person’s individual needs. Try to find a plan that suits your needs and offers some amount of flexibility. For example, you may want a plan that counts directly towards the deductible or plans that offer healthcare rewards program, where you can get discounts for things like exercising or getting yearly checkups.
6. Guaranteed Issue
Guaranteed issue plans are nice in that they automatically accept you regardless of age, gender, health status or pre-existing conditions. Usually, however, the tradeoff is there is no limit to what you can be charged when you enroll (except in some states who have laws forbidding this). Approach these types of plans with a bit of caution and, again, don’t wind up paying for something you don’t need if your health is okay.
7. Read the Fine Print
Though this blog is all about saving you time, this one is too important to not take the time to do. Gaps in federal regulations allow for plans chock full of exceptions and limitations that can easily get lost in long, boring paperwork, some of which no one ever reads. That can be risky. Be sure it’s clear to you EXACTLY what you’re paying for and what’s covered in advance. If reading the policy doesn’t explain it all to you, have an insurance agent or broker explain it to you (that’s their job, after all). It will save a ton of money and headaches.
AvatarFleet has partnered with Enrollment First who created a plan designed specifically for the Independent Driver that checks all the boxes listed above. Click the box below to learn how to design a plan specifically for your needs.