How about we imagine a scene where you’re sitting at your desk, the steady hum of the office in the background? Across from you, there’s a client, a furrowed brow, and a pile of health insurance queries between you.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Well, you’re not the only one. Did you know, in 2021, about 92% of the population had health insurance in the United States? And each person represented a potential question waiting to be asked.
Here’s the thing about health insurance—it’s a jigsaw puzzle. With terms and conditions that can make heads spin, it’s no wonder clients turn to you, their trusted health insurance agent, for answers. You’re not just an agent; you’re the key, ready to unlock the mysteries of this complicated world and translate it into a language anyone can understand.
This article is designed just for you to turn those awkward umms and unsure nods into confident replies. We’re diving deep into the pool of most-asked client questions that can often leave you scratching your head.
But wait, there’s more! We’re also providing you with the golden nuggets—answers from industry professionals that are detailed and as simple as ABC.
Why, you ask? Because, as a health insurance agent, every question you answer is a brick in the bridge of trust you’re building with your clients. Every clarified doubt, every reassured query, is a testament to your insurance selling skills, bringing you a step closer to that handshake, that smile of relief, that signed policy.
So, are you ready to transform into a question-answering superhero? Are you willing to swap those hesitations with a shining armor of knowledge and confidence? If you answer yes, buckle up because we’re about to take off!
- What Does This Health Insurance Policy Cover?
- What is the cost of the policy, and are there any deductibles?
- How does the claim process work?
- What does ‘out-of-pocket maximum’ mean in a health insurance policy?
- What does ‘copay’ mean in health insurance?
- Can you clarify the terms ‘in-network’ and ‘out-of-network’ coverage?
- Does this health insurance policy include coverage for mental health services?
- Does the policy cover pre-existing conditions?
- Is there an easy way to give consent?
Top questions asked by clients (+answers by professionals)
Here are some of the most common questions you will likely encounter while being a health insurance agent.
1. What Does This Health Insurance Policy Cover?
Think of a health insurance policy as a safety net. When you’re walking the high wire of life, it’s there to catch you if you fall. But how wide is the net? How sturdy? The answer depends on the policy; understanding its scope can make all the difference.
Let’s hear it from Stephan Baldwin, Founder of Assisted Living. He says, “Imagine you’re shopping for an umbrella. Some umbrellas are big enough to keep a family dry; others are compact for just one person. And some might not cover you if it’s raining cats and dogs. Health insurance is a bit like that.
Some policies offer a broad spectrum of coverage, like a giant umbrella. These might include preventative care, like vaccines and screenings, diagnostic tests, hospital stays, surgeries, prescription drugs, mental health care, rehabilitation, maternity, and pediatric services.
But not every umbrella is the same. Some are smaller, covering fewer services. Others might have ‘holes’ or exclusions for particular services or conditions.
Understanding what your ‘health insurance umbrella’ covers is crucial because this is where most misunderstandings happen. So, before you choose a policy, take a close look. Are there any holes? How big is it? If there’s something special you need to stay dry, like coverage for a specific medical condition, ensure it’s included before you step out into the rain.”
2. What is the cost of the policy, and are there any deductibles?
Let’s break it down. When you look at the price tag of a health insurance policy, don’t just look at the big, bold number at the top - the premium. Think of it as the price on a menu; it’s just the starting point, not the whole story.
Here’s how John Gardner, Co-Founder & CEO of Kickoff, explains it:
“Right, so when we talk about the cost of health insurance, we’re not just referring to the premium. Sure, it’s essential; it’s your monthly bill to keep your insurance active. But there’s more to the story.
Picture it like this, the premium is like your ticket to enter the theme park, but once you’re inside, you’ve got other expenses. That’s where your deductible comes in; it’s the amount you must pay for your healthcare before your insurance starts covering the costs. And keep in mind. Usually, a cheaper ticket (or premium) means you’re likely to spend more inside (higher deductible) and vice versa.
Now, inside this health insurance theme park, we have two things to keep an eye on: copayments and coinsurance. Copayment is like a fixed ride fee; let’s say you pay a flat $20 each time you visit the doctor or get a prescription, regardless of the actual cost.
On the other hand, coinsurance is more like a split bill. Once you’ve paid your deductible (or spent a certain amount inside our theme park), you might only pay 20% of the costs for the rest of your visit while your insurance covers the remaining 80%.
Don’t forget the out-of-pocket maximum. It’s like a spending cap on your day in the theme park. Once you’ve spent this amount, your insurance swoops in like a superhero and covers 100% of the costs for the rest of the policy period.
Remember, the cost of health insurance is a combination of all these elements. It’s more than just the price of the ticket; it’s about the whole experience. So, next time you consider the cost, don’t just look at the premium; think about the entire journey.”
3. How does the claim process work?
Imagine you’re at a restaurant, you’ve had a scrumptious meal, and now it’s time to pay the bill. Wouldn’t it be awesome if someone else could come along, examine your bill, and take care of most of it? Well, that’s what happens when you use your health insurance coverage. When you receive healthcare services, it kick-starts the ‘claim process’—your very own bill-checker!
Shawn Plummer, CEO at The Annuity Expert, explains. “Think of it like a relay race,” he says. “You’ve had your healthcare services—passed the baton, if you will—and your healthcare provider sprints off to submit a claim to your insurance company. This claim is like a race log, listing out the services you received and their costs.”
“Then the baton is in the insurance company’s hands. They scrutinize the claim, matching it up with your policy, and then pay up their part of the bill straight to your healthcare provider. You’ve then got to cover any remaining balance—if there is one, of course.”
Shawn points out an essential part of this relay, the Explanation of Benefits (EOB). It’s like your race rundown, showing what the insurance company has paid and any amount you need to cover. “Imagine it as your personal scorecard, something you really need to examine and understand,” advises Shawn. “And remember, if something doesn’t add up or seems as clear as mud, don’t just sit and scratch your head—reach out to your insurance company. They’re there to help clear up any confusion.”
4. What does ‘out-of-pocket maximum’ mean in a health insurance policy?
Ever wondered if there’s a safety net in the world of health insurance, a magic number that, once reached, means you can stop reaching into your pocket for health expenses? Meet your new best friend: the ‘out-of-pocket maximum.’ Think of it as your healthcare spending limit, a ceiling that ensures your healthcare costs won’t have you climbing the financial Everest.
As Linda Shaffer, Chief People Operations Officer at Checkr explains in simple terms: “Picture your ‘out-of-pocket maximum’ like a piggy bank. You keep adding coins to this bank for deductibles, copayments, and coins for coinsurance. But there’s a limit to how much this piggy bank can hold.
Once your coins reach this limit, it’s time for your insurance company to step in and cover 100% of any further costs for the services covered by your plan. It’s like your piggy bank is full, and any more coins get picked up by your insurer. Pretty cool, right?
But there’s a catch. The piggy bank only counts certain coins - it doesn’t include your premiums or any costs for services not covered by your plan. Also, if you leave your insurance network or get charged above the standard fees, those coins won’t count toward your piggy bank total. You’ll need to cover those extra costs yourself.
So, the lesson here? Get to know your policy as you would a close friend, so you’re not caught off guard with unexpected costs.”
5. What does ‘copay’ mean in health insurance?
Health insurance is like a unique language filled with fascinating words. One of these words that often crops up is ‘copay.’ Now, this might sound like tech talk but don’t worry. We’re here to untangle it together.
Tim White, Founder of Milepro, says, “Imagine you’re at a café with your health insurance. You order a cup of hot cocoa (your healthcare service). The bill comes, and your health insurance tells you, ‘Hey, I’ve got this, but you need to chip in a bit.’ That ‘chipping in a bit’ is what we call a copay.
Here’s the scoop, though, copays are a set amount, not a slice of the total bill. They can change depending on the doctor you see, like a primary care doc versus a specialist, and whether they’re in your health insurance’s friend circle, also known as ‘in-network.’
And oh! While these copays don’t chip away at your policy’s deductible, they count towards your out-of-pocket maximum. That’s the highest amount you’ll have to fork over for covered services in a year. Once you hit that number, your health insurance covers 100% of your benefits.
Understanding your copay is like having a map of your healthcare expenses. It’s your guide to planning ahead, so you’re never left scratching your head when a bill comes around.”
6. Can you clarify the terms ‘in-network’ and ‘out-of-network’ coverage?
Let’s imagine for a moment that health insurance is a bit like a music concert. You have the ‘backstage access’ (in-network), and then there’s the ‘general admission’ (out-of-network). They both get you to the concert, but the experience and cost differ.
Let’s hear it from Volodymyr Shchegel, VP of Engineering at Clario: “Let’s say your ‘in-network’ providers are like having backstage passes to a concert. Your insurance company and the healthcare providers have shaken hands, struck a deal, and agreed to provide healthcare services at special, lowered rates. It’s like having a backstage pass to medical care, which can be a much more affordable experience for you.
Now, on the flip side, we have ‘out-of-network’ providers. Think of these like buying a general admission ticket. These providers haven’t signed any contract with your insurance company, so they can charge regular, usually higher, fees for their services. Depending on your plan, these fees may not be covered fully, or even at all, so it could be a pricier concert for you.
There might be times, though, like during emergencies or when a particular specialist isn’t ‘backstage’ when you’ll need to go ‘out-of-network.’ During those instances, it’s crucial to know who’s ‘backstage’ and who’s not before getting care and to understand what that might cost you.
While the ‘backstage’ or ‘in-network’ care is generally easier on the wallet, knowing your options both on and off the stage can help you make better decisions when it comes to your health. And as a health insurance agent, understanding these terms will empower you to sell insurance that suits your client’s preferences and financial situations.”
7. Does this health insurance policy include coverage for mental health services?
When it comes to health, it’s not just about our bodies. Our minds matter too, and a lot! So it’s no surprise that the question about mental health services coverage often pops up. The mind is a complex engine that sometimes needs a bit of a tune-up, just like any other part of us. Let’s dive in and explore how this all works in health insurance.
Alex Milligan, Co-founder & CMO of NuggMD, gives us a grand tour on this: “Compare your health insurance policy to a big umbrella. Included under that umbrella are services designed to keep you humming along happily. And yes, that umbrella typically covers mental health services.
This mental health coverage isn’t a minor add-on or optional accessory. No, it’s right in the heart of the policy, thanks to the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. The law ensures that mental health gets the same level of love as medical or surgical services.
Just imagine, if your plan offers outpatient care for a sprained ankle, it must also provide outpatient care for mental health and substance use disorders. Sounds fair, right?
But remember, not all umbrellas are the same size or color. Different insurance plans may cover different therapists and treatments or limit visits. That’s why taking a good look at your insurance policy is crucial. Understand what it covers under mental health services, and you’ll have a clear road map for your journey to mental well-being.”
8. Does the policy cover pre-existing conditions?
We all have a backstory; for some, that backstory includes health hiccups that existed before the thought of health insurance even popped into their minds.
The question, “Does this policy cover pre-existing conditions?” isn’t just a random query; it’s a vital piece of the puzzle that could drastically influence their decision. It might be the difference between waving hello to top-tier care or a strained smile at less-than-ideal options.
Tom Nolan, Founder of All Star Home, offers this insight: “Imagine the Affordable Care Act as a superhero, swooping in to declare that health insurance companies have to cover pre-existing conditions.
This means anything health-related that was part of your story before you kick-started your coverage. We’re talking about the full spectrum here, from chronic heavy-hitters like diabetes or heart disease to a sprained ankle from a soccer game last summer.
But remember, even superheroes have their kryptonite. There can be exceptions, particularly if you’re eyeing up short-term health insurance plans or ones not dancing to the ACA’s tune.
So it’s super important to ask questions to dig into the nitty-gritty details relevant to your unique situation. And be honest when sharing your health history while applying for insurance. It’s the best way to ensure your health narrative, whatever it may be, is covered just right.”
9. Is there an easy way to give consent?
The new rules require health agents and brokers to be able to show that the client has given them consent to access their information and enroll them and their families in the selected health plans. The CMS has issued some guidelines but it up to the agents themselves to interpret the guidelines and decide on how they will follow them.
That’s why CrankWheel created an easy way for your clients to sign the ACA consent form. You can bring the form to your client’s mobile screen while you are screen sharing and both of you will get a copy of the signed form. You can also record your screen if you want to be able to show both the signing itself and the signature.
Becoming a top-notch health insurance agent needs more than a well-tailored suit. It’s a spicy mix of know-how, a dash of empathy, a sprinkle of communication finesse, and a good dollop of organization. It also involves setting smart goals that guide your growth and improvement in the field.
Think about each question your client asks, like they’re asking for the next step on a dance floor. It’s your chance to lead, to clarify, and ultimately to help them nail the next move in their health and financial dance routine.
As a health insurance agent, your job is one of the most critical. It might not always be smooth sailing, but remember, every wave you navigate is a life you’re making a little bit better. So, keep learning, growing, and lighting the way for your clients. They need you, and so does the world of health insurance.