The Statista Global Consumer Survey conducted in Canada in 2022 found that 52 percent of respondents answered the question “Which of these statements about online shopping do you agree with?” with “When I plan a major purchase, I always do some research on the internet first”.
And not only do Canadians shop around online, but many Canadian shoppers also prefer online to in-person purchases because of the better product selection and the fact that they can save time and money virtually browsing through the offerings.
While shopping online is easy and convenient, when it comes to buying health insurance online, here is what you should know.
1. Know what health insurance is (and isn’t)
To start, its important to understand what health insurance is (and isn’t). Health insurance is a policy or contract that gives you, the insured person, financial coverage to help pay for health-care needs. Your insurer will pay for your covered health-care expenses as outlined in the policy. You pay the insurance company a monthly premium for the coverage protection.
When you purchase health insurance, your plan is called an individual or supplemental plan. In Canada, some of your health-care needs are already covered by your provincial or territorial plan. That’s why health insurance is called ‘supplemental’. It covers healthcare costs not covered by your government plans. It is also called ‘individual’ because you choose and own the policy, not your employer.
Government health care won’t cover all the medical, dental, or other health-care costs you might face throughout your life. Health insurance helps you cover these costs. Having health insurance coverage from an insurance company can help you avoid:
- paying out-of-pocket to cover various health-care costs,
- asking loved ones or family members for money, or
- dipping into your savings to cover the costs of an illness or injury.
Depending on the type of health insurance you buy, you can receive coverage for a range of health-care issues, including the cost of:
- dental care, including regular checkups, cleanings, and some procedures
- vision care, including optometrist visits as well as prescription glasses, contact lenses and laser eye surgery
- extended health care, including registered specialists and therapists (such as massage therapists, chiropractors, physiotherapists, and psychologists), orthotics, hearing aids, homecare, and medical equipment
- emergency travel health care, which helps cover the costs of emergency medical care for a predetermined number of days when travelling outside your home province or territory.
2. Learn how to compare plans
There are three things to consider when you compare health insurance plans:
You may not be eligible for every supplemental health insurance plan available. Some plans offer guaranteed acceptance while others determine eligibility based on your medical history. This is not to say that everybody with a pre-existing health condition is automatically excluded from every type of health insurance coverage. However, your medical history will be a factor in the availability and rates for your coverage.
- If you currently have coverage through a company group plan, you may qualify for different coverage packages to enhance those benefits, filling in gaps or maximizing coverage.
- If you are changing jobs or retiring in the near future, you may be eligible for guaranteed coverage if you apply within 90 days of losing your group benefits.
- If you haven’t had health insurance for quite some time, you are eligible for a wide variety of plans.
All health insurance plans do not offer the same level of coverage for the same services. Some plans cover certain services, partially cover others, and exclude some altogether. It is important for you to review each plan to find out what is and is not covered, especially if you have a pre-existing health condition. Some health insurance plans will not cover the cost of treatment for pre-existing conditions, while others will. If you have a pre-existing condition, the prescription drugs to treat it may not be eligible for coverage, unless you are coming off a group plan and apply within 90 days of losing that coverage or if you choose a guaranteed issue plan.
Annual Coverage Limits or Maximums
When selecting the right supplemental insurance coverage, it’s easy to focus on the annual premiums. After all, the total cost of the insurance policy will be a factor. However, when comparing prices, it is imperative to consider factors like the maximums and co-payments.
Every medical insurance plan has a maximum dollar amount they will pay for products and services within a given time period. For example, Plan A may pay a maximum of $1,500 a year for medical equipment while Plan B pays a maximum of $5,000 a year for medical supplies and devices.
After the plan has paid the maximum amount allowed, you are responsible for any additional costs above that amount. Therefore, it may be worthwhile to select a policy with a higher premium that also has higher limits of coverage. Be sure to select a plan with maximums that meet your needs.
3. Depend on a health insurance expert
While shopping for health insurance online may seem like a time saver, using an expert like SBIS for all the details that you may not find online can save you money and time – all at no cost to you.
SBIS’ convenient 24/7 access offers detailed online information written in plain language so you can clearly understand your options. We work with several health insurance providers, giving you a greater variety of plans to choose from. At SBIS, we explain what is covered under each plan, such as prescription medications, vision care, specialist treatments and more. We also explain the cost of each plan and what your premium may be.
If you want to ask questions, SBIS representatives are friendly experts who take your call and help you figure out what kind of health insurance plan would best suit your needs as well as all the other important details you should be aware about for your plan. We take the time to answer each of your questions so you can make a well informed decision that you are comfortable with. We can even help after you’ve already purchased a plan to make any changes that need to be made. Call us Monday to Friday 8:45 a.m. – 4:45 p.m. Eastern Time at 1-800-667-0429 or 416-601-0429.
At SBIS we believe in customer care
After you put your health insurance plan in place, you may need to make changes – and at SBIS we will help you with great customer service for things like
- Personal Information Changes like a change in dependent status, adding a new dependent or even a name change
- Changing your address (even if you move provinces, your plan will go with you)
- Updating your premium payment information like a bank account change
- Upgrading or downgrading your coverage to fit your needs.
If you have problems with your insurance claim, SBIS will assist throughout the process and offer tips that can help you make your health and travel insurance claims. If there are any issues you have the real peace of mind that we will work on your behalf to help you get the most out of your insurance coverage. We are your advocate and the industry professional in your corner.