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Optional Benefits to Consider Adding to Your Personal Virginia Health Insurance Plan

By Mark W. Brooks

Choosing a personal health insurance plan in Virginia can be difficult with all of the different insurance companies and policies that are available. Sorting through the various optional benefits available can make it even more challenging. These optional benefits are sometimes referred to as “riders” and can be added to your basic health insurance policy for an additional premium. Let’s look at some of the common options available and some of the advantages and disadvantages:

  1. Dental insurance – Most dental insurance riders usually include preventative care for check-ups and cleanings, basic restorative services such as fillings and simple extractions and major services such as crowns and root canals.

    Advantages – Preventative care is usually covered immediately and covers most of the cost without a deductible if a network dentist is used.

    Disadvantages – Restorative and major services generally have waiting periods of 6-18 months before benefits begin. Most health insurance plans do not cover orthodontics.
  2. Maternity insurance – Covers routine pregnancy as any other medical expense.

    Advantages – Most personal policies provide no coverage for maternity related expenses unless this rider is added. Virginia law does require insurance companies such as Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield to cover complications of pregnancy even without the rider.

    Disadvantages – Most plans have a 9-month waiting period before a pregnancy can begin and the rider can be expensive.

  3. Life insurance – Provides each family member with term life insurance coverage should one of the insureds die.

    Advantages – Generally does not require a medical exam and small amounts of coverage can be purchased at reasonable rates.

    Disadvantages – You generally must maintain the health insurance plan in order to keep the life insurance coverage. Larger amounts of coverage can generally be purchased on a stand-alone policy and can be less expensive if you submit to a medical exam.
  4. Supplemental Accident Protection – Provides first dollar coverage without a deductible for accidents and injuries.

    Advantages – Covering the small mishaps on a first dollar basis is important for families with children or those involved in sports. Especially helpful if you have a high deductible on your health insurance.

    Disadvantages – Could be costly and may not be necessary if you are not accident prone.
  5. Preventative care and immunizations – Provides coverage for well baby, well child and adult routine preventative care such as routine physicals, immunizations, vision and hearing screenings.

    Advantages – Preventative care can be expensive and this particular rider would encourage routine check-ups which could result in early detection of a serious health issue.

    Disadvantages – Many major insurers are beginning to cover preventative care at no additional cost, therefore, the rider may not be necessary.
  6. Multi-year rate guarantee – Locks in your rates for one or more years with a guarantee that it will not increase during the guarantee period.

    Advantages – Virginia health insurance rates have been increasing dramatically in some instances and this rider would help you budget for a certain premium amount during the guarantee period.

    Disadvantages – You pay more for the rate guarantee and it may be for a period of time longer than you may need or want the coverage. Rate increases at the end of the guarantee period may be dramatic.
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