Health insurance. They aren’t dirty words – at least, they don’t have to be. If you spend a little time learning how to get the best health insurance you can reap surprising benefits. Every buyer and every insurance company is different, but here are a few general ideas that can apply to almost every health insurance situation:

Choosing the right health insurance plan will be a time and money saver in the future. Whether it is an HMO, PPO, POS or any of a variety of coverage types, the cost associated with medical treatment needs to fit within your budget and needs. Look for plans that will encompass care from your family physician, which will make your coverage more practical.

Health insurance may not completely cover the cost of birth control or well-woman visits with your physician. An alternative to a regular gynecologist is Planned Parenthood, which offers exams, counseling and birth control on a sliding scale, meaning the amount you are charged is based on your ability to pay. County health clinics may also offer these services.

If you cannot afford insurance, you can try a few things to get the medical treatment you need. Many states offer insurance to qualified people, as well as clinics, that offer care for a sliding scale fee. The money that you save, can offer you the chance to get health insurance later.

Vision insurance is a wonderful investment for those who have a high need for eyewear. If you need glasses or contacts to see in daily life, you need to have this type of insurance to help cut down the cost for all your eye care needs. Glasses and contact can become expensive when paying in full every time you need them.

Depending on the demographic makeup of your office, employer based insurance may not be the best for you. Insurance plans are built upon spreading out the risk. If you are the youngest person in an office, working with a group of people nearing retirement, you will pay more for your insurance to cover for them. Always check with outside insurance before choosing to go with your employers.

Make sure your health insurance is not being “grandfathered” in. Some companies do not have to provide the new changes required by law, because they have been in business for a very long time, or they know someone higher up. If your policy is one of these, start looking for a new company.

Consider opening a healthcare savings plan. These plans are typically for people with high deductibles and allow you to deposit funds for later use on prescriptions and other medical costs not covered in your policy. The deposits you make are usually tax-deductible, so take advantage of this offer if your insurance company provides it.

Take advantage of any wellness programs offered by both your workplace and your health insurance company. Both of these may reward you in different ways, such as your workplace offering a cash-incentive for completing an exercise program, or your insurance company lowering your premiums if you follow a quit-smoking one. These offers are rare, but helpful.

Health insurance can help you pay less taxes. The premiums that you pay for your health insurance are actually tax deductible! Additionally, all out-of-pocket medical expenses are tax-deductible. Because state and federal tax regulations vary for these deductions, you’ll want to check your state guidelines first.

Do not lie about anything when taking out a health insurance policy. It might be tempting to omit certain details. Resist the urge and be completely honest. A little white lie can make your entire policy useless. You do not want to find yourself stuck with the bill if you happen to get hospitalized and caught in a lie.

Find out what the pre-existing condition limitations are before you cancel your current health insurance policy to enroll in another. You may find that any illnesses or disabilities that you have may not be covered if you change to a new provider. Check with your State Insurance Department to find additional information on insurances that will cover those pre-existing conditions.

If you use prescription medications and are on a health insurance plan, check with your insurer to see if 90-day prescriptions are available in pharmacies. 90-day refills have long been available by mail, but now they are becoming available in local pharmacies – which means you get the full cost benefit of a 90-day prescription (essentially 90 days’ worth of drugs for a 30-day payment), without having to wait for the medications to come in the mail. It’s a tremendous deal and definitely worth checking out.

If at all possible, use home health care services for recovery time rather than a hospital and reduce medical cost considerably. There are a few different types of home health care that may be covered by your insurance and each may be under different circumstances so check with your provider, but all will save you money and offer you much greater comfort than a hospital.

Before having a baby you should know about how much you will have to pay even with health insurance. If you have a PPO you may end up paying about $1000 or even more for the birth. If you have an HMO your costs will probably be a lot lower. It is best to figure it out before you get pregnant.

When trying to search for a new health insurance plan that suits your needs, try to shop around a bit. Like other major purchases, it makes a great deal of sense to shop and get quotes from multiple policies. It doesn’t matter if you are looking for supplemental, primary, or short term policies, you can at least get some quotes and information from possible providers now.

Buying health insurance is not that different from staying healthy. The time to act is long before trouble comes up. Insurance buyers who learn all they can and prepare themselves well can get the health insurance they need for significantly less money. And once the policy is bought, smart research will help the holder get the most out of it.