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How to choose an insurance plan

When it comes to health insurance, you need to be your own advocate—and that starts with asking questions. It’s your responsibility to understand your plan, no matter how you and your family obtain coverage. You’ll want to find a plan that’s right for you because it can have a huge impact on your health and finances.

Choosing the right health insurance plan can be a daunting task. It’s crucial to understand your plan's details and make an informed decision to ensure both your health and finances are protected. Always review a plan's summary of benefits, drug formulary list, and provider network directory. 

Questions to ask before deciding on a health plan

  • What is the premium?
  • What is the out-of-pocket maximum?
  • What are the deductibles?
  • Is the deductible included in the out-of-pocket maximum, or is it in addition to the maximum?
  • How is immunoglobulin (Ig) therapy covered?
  • Do you have coinsurance or a flat copay for treatments and services you are likely to need?
  • Do you have options for site of care?
  • Are your physicians in the plan's network?
  • Are there out-of-network benefits?
  • Does the plan have a copay accumulator?

Steps to take when choosing a private health plan

Unexpected medical needs can be costly and unpredictable, so it's important to understand the costs associated with your health plan based on your family's known health situations.

  1. Download and complete the Personal Health Experience Stat Sheet to identify and quantify the health services you and your family used in the previous 12 months. This list provides a list of benefits your new plan should include.
  2. Reference the glossary of insurance terms when needed.
  3. Ask your human resources representative, insurance agent, or marketplace agent to provide the following documents for each health plan you are considering:
    1. Benefit summary: an easy-to-understand summary of a health plan's benefits and coverage.
    2. Drug formulary: a list of prescription drugs covered by the health plan.
    3. Provider network directory: a list of providers contracted with the health plan to provide healthcare services.
    4. Health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA) details, if provided.
  4. Download and complete the Health Plan Cost Comparison Worksheet to evaluate your potential plan costs based on your prior year's medical experience.

 Additional tips to consider:

  • Ask your human resources/benefits administration department, broker, or the health plan's customer service representative if you have questions about your options.
  • You may have the choice between EPO, HMO, POS, or PPO plan types. Consider the pros and cons of each type of plan.
    • Exclusive provider organization (EPO): A managed care plan in which services are covered only if you go to doctors, specialists, or hospitals in the plan’s network (except in an emergency).
    • Health maintenance organization (HMO): An insurance plan that usually limits coverage to care from doctors who work for or contract with the HMO. Generally won’t cover out-of-network care except in an emergency, and may require you to live or work in its service area to be eligible for coverage.
    • Point-of-service (POS): A type of plan in which you pay less if you use doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers that belong to the plan’s network. POS plans may also require you to get a referral from your primary care doctor to see a specialist.
    • Preferred provider organization (PPO): A type of health plan that contracts with medical providers, such as hospitals and doctors, to create a network of participating providers. You pay less if you use providers who belong to the plan’s network. You can use doctors, hospitals, and providers outside of the network for an additional cost.
  • Check enrollment dates with your employer or the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace.

Choosing a Medicare plan

Similar to choosing a private insurance plan, you need to do a thorough evaluation of the choices to determine the Medicare plan that works best for you. Ask yourself the same questions as noted above when you choose a plan. Additional options to consider when it comes to Medicare coverage include: 

Coverage for Ig therapy largely depends on one’s specific diagnosis and their site of care. Ig therapy, whether intravenous (IVIG) or subcutaneous (SCIG), will be covered under the traditional Medicare Part B medical benefit at 80%. A supplemental/Medigap plan (Part F or G) is required to cover the remaining amount.

Another option is a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C), which is sold as an “all-in-one policy” and acts more like private insurance. Managed care plans must provide enrollees with all Part A and Part B benefits, but they are not required to provide the same access to providers that is provided under original Medicare.

The cost of your treatment is dependent upon the plan design. Patients with Medicare Advantage plans have reported to IDF that most have a 20 to 30% coinsurance for treatment. If you choose an advantage plan, you are not eligible to obtain a secondary policy.

CMS has a new policy for Medicare Advantage plans that allows the plans the option to apply step therapy to Part B drugs that are physician-administered. Step therapy usually requires you to start with the lowest cost option and then you can “step-up” to higher-cost products if there are medical reasons for the change.

If you are well established on a product and do not wish to change your treatment plan, you may want to avoid the Part C option or at least confirm whether the plan will use step therapy.

Medicare eligibility and enrollment

Most people become eligible for Medicare when they turn 65. Since Medicare plans vary from state to state and even by counties within a state, you need to research what plans you are eligible for. Contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) to find trained counselors who can tell you the plans you are eligible for and assist you in finding the answers to your coverage questions.

If you decide on traditional Medicare, you will need to enroll in prescription coverage (Part D) as well. For enrollment dates, check the Medicare website.

Medicaid eligibility and enrollment

You may qualify for free or low-cost healthcare through Medicaid based on income and family size. Eligibility rules vary from state to state. In all states, Medicaid provides health coverage to some children, parents, pregnant women, elderly people with certain incomes, and people with disabilities. Some states have expanded their Medicaid programs to cover other adults below a certain income. 

There are two ways you can apply for Medicaid:


Getting answers can help create peace of mind. Ask us anything and we’ll consult with experts.

Selecting a health insurance plan can be a challenging process. Basic information to navigate insurance is available for the PI community.

Answers to specific questions, relative to cost and generally covered benefits, can be found by reviewing a plan’s summary of benefits, drug formulary list, and provider network directory, or by contacting the insurance company. When speaking to an insurance representative, you should be able to receive answers to all of your questions. If not, ask to speak to someone who can answer them.

While this is often considered a tedious process, it is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure that a plan meets your needs. It is better to know everything you can about your plan before you select it than to find problems and hidden costs after you have made a decision. Please remember, it is okay to ask questions until you receive answers when communicating with insurance representatives.

Yes, prior authorizations are required for Ig therapy. These can take anywhere from a couple of days to a few months. Insurance companies require re-authorizations, including updated lab work and clinical notes (from an office visit) every 6-12 months. Some insurance companies are becoming stricter and require this every 1-3 months. 

If you have further questions or are diagnosed with PI and looking for more support, please reach out to us at 410-321-6647.