Saturday, May 25, 2013

Ways of Paying for Health Insurance

When it comes to health insurance, many people don't exactly know everything that there is to know about the subject. That only stands to reason, it is not something that is easily understood because of its complexity. For instance, when you visit the doctor you may be asked to pay something that is called the "co-pay", and other times you may not have to do anything at all depending on your plan. Let's look at some of the ways that health insurance is paid for.

Often times, your employer will sponsor your insurance and you only have to pay what is known as a "co-pay" or co payment. The co-pay is a set amount that is determined by your insurance company when you receive covered services. This is a significantly smaller fee than you would be paying without the co-pay. Many companies offer this type of payment option because it is easier on the employee to pay this way.

You may consider opening what is known as a Healthcare Savings Account (HSA). This will assure that you always have a location in which to retrieve payments for various medical expenses. The HSA is a pre-tax savings account where a portion of your pre-tax income, determined by you, is deposited into an account automatically. Since this account comes from your paycheck pre-tax, that means it will lower your overall taxable income. This means you are saving money in terms of taxes and saving lots of money towards your overall health care costs.

For certain disabled individuals and those above the age of 65, Medicare is also another way to pay for health insurance. While they will not pay all of your healthcare expenses, they will pay for most of them. Medicare, however, doesn't cover prescription drugs and nursing homes. It is important that you check the different types of restrictions that may apply. There are low-cost prescription discount cards that have been proven to save people who require costly medications on a regular basis over 50% of what they would have been paying without any health care.

Paying for health insurance doesn't have to be complicated as long as you understand just what is going on in terms of where you stand with your plan. Discuss any questions you may have about the plan before committing to one. While one plan may be right for many people, it does not always mean that it will fit your specific needs.

Traveling Alternative Roads: Other Options for Health Care

Health insurance can be expensive if you are not lucky enough to have it provided by your employer. Even shopping around for the best quotes may not be within your budget. Luckily there are alternatives to health insurance that you can take advantage of so that you and your family will be safe even if an emergency situation comes up. You can apply for the prescription discount card program, which is a low monthly cost and works at most of the of corporation drug stores that we all use. There are also programs that give you health care but are not considered "health insurance".

The prescription discount card is great for anyone who has regular prescriptions that need to be filled over a long period of time. The cost of prescriptions without insurance is high and always rising. If you cannot afford health insurance, there is no way that buying these full priced prescriptions will come without difficulty. You can enroll in a discount card program on the Internet or you can call around to try and find one locally. The reported savings for each person is estimated to be at least 50%, and some programs will enroll you for under $5 a month.

Health care programs are another popular alternative to expensive health insurance. BeniCard, for example, is a highly acclaimed health care program, and for a small monthly fee, you can have your immediate family covered. You will not be turned down because there is no limit to who is eligible, even if you have a pre-existing condition. It is not health insurance, but you will be able to save money on doctor visits, vision and hearing care, dental services, and prescription drugs. This is just one of the programs that can help you if you cannot get health insurance due to expense or because you have been turned down due to an illness.

No one should go without health care of some sort. Prescriptions are extremely costly without insurance, and if you or someone in your family has an emergency health situation, you could be left with a large debt for years. Insurance companies are hesitant to accept anyone with a pre-existing illness because it will definitely cost them plenty of money. For anyone who has been turned down for health insurance or simply cannot afford to pay a deductible, health care programs and prescription discounts are a low-cost alternative that could save you money.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Importance of Keeping Good Files

As in everything that involves money, it is important
to keep good records of your medical expenses for many

Keeping track of deductibles, especially for a family,
can be time consuming, but is an important task. Every
policy has different deductibles for lab work,
hospital emergency room visits, hospital stays, doctor
visits and x-rays, and it is often difficult to track.

Keeping track of your out-of-pocket expenses becomes
very important when it comes time to complete your
taxes. It also comes in handy to know what your
expenses are for medical care when choosing to change
companies or policies.

A file folder that includes a copy of the policy,
copies of your medical bills and copies of what your
insurance company has paid on those bills is usually
all you will need.

When a bill comes for a provider, you will usually
receive a statement from your insurance company
showing what portion of the bill they paid, and many
times providers write off the remainder, if it is not
a large sum.

If you visit several doctors, you may want to have a
file folder for each doctor or provider.

Insurance companies do occasionally make mistakes, but
they are usually on top of their game. Having a copy
of the policy handy makes it easy to check deductible
levels and whether a particular service is covered or

It also serves as a ready resource for telephone
numbers, website information and your contact at the
insurance company.

The Importance of Good Records

Keeping your own records of any medical care that you and your immediate family have received is the only way to be sure that your insurance and bills are free from mistakes. It may seem unimportant now, but later in life when you try to get life insurance or get treatment that is appropriate for you, the importance will be in the spotlight. Everything from your allergies to your payment records with medical facilities can hurt you if they are wrong in your report. You could be given improper treatment or even denied treatment at all. By keeping your own records, you can dispute anything that is false.

Would you believe that you could be denied a job because of something erroneous on your medical records? It is true; if you are reported to have a disability, whether it is true or not, you could be turned down. You would be labeled as a risk, especially if the company offers insurance; they would know that you are going to cost more money to employ. The same goes for applying for health insurance where your medical records show that you would require prescription drugs, doctor visits, and increased chance of emergencies. It is quite the ordeal if you do in fact have a disability, but imaging if you did not have one at all-you would be turned down for insurance, while also being completely ineligible for disability financial help.

An example of a mistake that could be made on your record would be a diagnosis error. Perhaps you request that your doctor check a suspicious lump in your breast. On the first visit he may suspect that it is cancer. Most people will get a second opinion or go for a more thorough conclusive examination. If the second doctor decides that it is only a cyst and has it removed, your personal records would show that you are cancer-free. However, if this visit was documented incorrectly, or not at all, you may have trouble getting insured and not know why. If you had a record of the second visit that found the cyst, this situation would be easily disputed and your record would be accurate.

Human error is simply a part of life, even on medical documents. It is important to always keep your own records so that insurance companies get accurate information about you and your health condition. If you are being turned down for insurance and do not know why, you are best advised to be sure that you are not being misrepresented within your medical records. This problem can be cleared up quickly and easily if you are responsible enough to keep your own personal records.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Basics

Health insurance, in this modern world of cancer,
heart disease, AIDS, diabetes, asthma, ageing and
other diseases and afflictions, it is essential to
have some sort of health insurance.

There are many levels of health insurance coverage
available; unfortunately, like most things in life,
you get what you pay for, and good coverage can be
very expensive.

The two most common terms in referring to health
insurance are premium, which is the amount paid for
the insurance, and deductible, which is your
out-of-pocket expense before the insurance pays your

For instance, you might pay $300 premium per month for
family coverage, and your deductible might be $250 per
person, which means if you fell and broke your ankle
and went to the hospital emergency room, you would be
required to pay the first $250 of the bill.

You can purchase very basic catastrophic coverage,
which would carry a very high deductible and the
premium would be less than comprehensive coverage
which would have a higher premium and lower

It pays to invest the time to investigate various
insurance options, taking into consideration your age,
your general health and the health of your family

Your employer may offer group health insurance, which
is most likely the least expensive option for you, and
usually the premium is deducted from your paycheck.

Health insurance is a calculated risk; can you afford
the premiums or are you willing to risk that you would
pay less out of pocket for medical expenses in a year
than the premiums would cost? Consider carefully.

Stay Legal! Avoiding Insurance Fraud

Everyone knows that the health insurance industry is continually raising monthly premiums, and many feel this is unjust to you as the consumer. However, the health insurance industry has had to fight increasing health insurance fraud. The amount of money spent on investigating and prosecuting fraud is then passed on to policyholders. Many people do not understand what health insurance fraud entails, though. With reports estimating health insurance fraud is a $30 billion to over $100 billion industry per year, the topic should not be taken lightly. Every health insurance policyholder should understand what health insurance fraud is and its consequences. By doing so, you are more able to recognize and fight fraud.

Health insurance fraud is typically defined as intentionally deceiving, misrepresenting, or concealing information to receive benefits from the insurance company. Essentially this means that you assert that you paid for certain medical procedures or expenses out-of-pocket which you have not actually received, and you are submitting claims to the insurance company to receive reimbursement. Another example of member fraud is to conceal pre-existing conditions or to alter medical documents so that non-policyholders or ineligible members receive medical benefits under your policy. Perhaps your sister does not have insurance and needs medical attention. Having her use your name and policy to cover the expenses is health insurance fraud. While you may think that this is a small issue in comparison to your sister receiving treatment, it is actually very serious to your health insurance company and industry, and will result in fines and possible imprisonment if your are caught.

Not only policyholders commit fraud, but providers (physicians, hospitals, etc.) do as well. Since physicians and hospitals bill the insurance company for services they provide for you, they are also receiving reimbursement from the insurance company. When providers commit fraud, they may be billing the insurance company at higher rates for services rendered or they may bill for services you never received. In these cases, you will probably be asked to cooperate in the insurance company's investigation.

Another type of health insurance fraud that has developed recently targets the policyholder more than the insurance company. Schemes have developed where fake insurance companies or agents sign unsuspecting customers for coverage at surprisingly low premium rates. They often act much like a regular insurance company for the first few months, paying for smaller medical claims like physicians visits. But once you have a more serious medical condition that needs treatment, the insurance company will disappear - along with the money you have been paying in premiums.

The rule with health insurance fraud is much like that of any other scam: if a deal seems too good to be true, just remember - it probably is. Remember to be honest in your dealings with health insurance companies and expect the same in the return from these companies, as well as your health care providers. Stay legal to avoid fines and prison and to continue receiving health insurance coverage.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Something Old, Sometime New: Insurance When You are Getting Married

Something Old, Sometime New: Insurance When You are Getting Married

Health insurance providers are not created equal. Before a couple is married, the option of sharing coverage is extremely unusual unless one of your insurers offers domestic partner insurance. As you become engaged, if you both have separate insurance it is important to talk about the both of you switching to the better plan once you are married. There are a few factors consider, which include deductibles, co-payments, and the benefits of each separate plan. Marriage is a big step, and it can be done with ease if the two of you settle important decisions such as your health insurance plan before you take the big leap.

Your deductible is the amount you must pay each year to start your policy. Once this payment is made you will be responsible for whatever amount of co-payment your insurance company requires for you to pay for the health expenses that are covered in your particular policy. The amount of co-payments that you will be responsible for is established at the time you agree to your health insurance policy. It is going to be a certain percentage of health expenses; for instance, you pay 10% while your insurer will be paying the other 90%. You and your fianc should compare both of your plans and figure out which deductible and co-payment plan seems most appropriate for the two of you.

Married couples are usually eligible for certain benefits that unmarried couples are not. Being insured separately by the health care provider sponsored by your employers may no longer be the most beneficial option for you. If you or your fianc has insurance, and the other does not, once the two of you are married they can be added to the other partner's plan. Cost of adding an additional person is definitely something that should be examined. You should not be required to pay more for adding a spouse or even a child in the future because most plans are offered to immediate family at no extra cost. The best way to compare policies is to estimate a yearly amount of normal health expenses, emergencies, co-payments, and deductibles. Whichever plan has the lowest cost to you will almost always be the best choice.

In addition to sharing health insurance with your new spouse, you may also want to consider switching the rest of your insurance plans, such as the policies you have for your separate automobiles. This is because most companies will give you a discount on having more than one vehicle insured. You may also be interested in finding a company that can insure you home, automobile, and health in one place. If you carry more than one policy with a company, they will also usually give you some sort of discount on them. It is important to sit down and discuss insurance with your fianc because the two of you could be saving money and stress by figuring out what decision is best before the time comes.

Say Cheese: Dental Benefits

Dental insurance is often an afterthought when obtaining health insurance for a number of reasons. Some people may simply dislike the dentist and use the lack of dental insurance as a reason to not visit the dentist; others may feel that dental insurance is not worth the added cost to their monthly health insurance premium. Still others may simply feel that their teeth are in good shape and there is little need to spend the extra money to cover a part of their body that does not currently have any problems. Nevertheless, dental insurance is important because of several benefits.

When people think of the cost of dental work or procedures, they often think of costly bills. Even simple procedures like getting your wisdom teeth removed can average in the hundreds of dollars per tooth! However, one obvious benefit to dental insurance is the coverage of simple but costly dental procedures such as getting a tooth removed. In the end, the slight increase in a monthly premium may be worth it to avoid a high dental bill. Moreover, dental insurance also helps financially if a dental emergency develops. Perhaps you are in need of a root canal or dental implants - both extremely costly procedures that you often do not anticipate. Dental insurance will most likely cover a portion, if not all of these expensive procedures.

Also, while many feel that brushing and flossing daily is all the dental care they need this is simply not true - even for young, healthy adults. Dental disease is common and can affect your body in a number of ways. For instance, some dental diseases left untreated can lead to more serious medical issues such as kidney infections or even diabetes. Most people do now know of the connection between dental diseases and other illnesses. Thus, having dental insurance that covers routine visits to the dentist, which can help uncover dental diseases early, is extremely important. Dental insurance is designed to encourage preventative care, because spotting dental diseases or dental problems early reduces the overall cost of treatment.

Dental insurance may seem like just another gimmick to get a few more dollars out of you, but it is essential for your health. Your regular health insurance plan, whether it is through your employer as a group plan or an individual plan, should offer you the option of buying dental insurance coverage, and you should consider this piece of the plan thoroughly when purchasing health insurance.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Protection during the Golden Years: Health Insurance and Retirement

Health insurance for retirees or senior citizens can be confusing, especially with so many options and requirements. However, health insurance is crucial for retirees. As you grow older, your health obviously becomes more of an issue; you may visit the doctor more, need to fill more prescriptions, or even receive in-home care. Before you retire, prepare for health insurance to ensure that you receive the best benefits.

The first step in planning your health insurance coverage in your retirement is to see if your employer offers insurance coverage after you retire. If the company does, you should certainly consider it. Look at the plan, the deductible, and the coverage. Many near-retirees believe that Medicare will cover their medical payments, but this is not always the case. With this sort of coverage, you will most likely receive better health care but at a more expensive cost. As a retiree, you will certainly have a health insurance budget to maintain, and you will have to decide if the cost of your employer's insurance is too expensive.

If your employer does not offer coverage, Medicare will be an important and integral part of your health insurance if you are 65 years of age or older. Medicare works like traditional health insurance plans in that you have been contributing a small portion of every paycheck you earn into this plan. Once Medicare begins, you will make co-payments for office visits or treatment. Medicare will also cover the expense of certain medical equipment or needs.

However, Medicare did not cover a number of items that are typical of health insurance. The government recently updated Medicare and divided it into three parts: Part A, B, and C. Part A covers hospital care, such as home health care, hospital stays, and hospice care. This part does not require a premium. Part B covers the more routine medical expenses, such as office visits and laboratory tests, while Part C enrolls you into a fee-for-service or managed care plan that reduces your out-of-pocket costs. Despite these different options, Medicare restricts your coverage by not covering certain kinds of care or illnesses and diseases. Thus, there is also Medigap coverage, which helps fill in the gaps in health insurance that Medicare leaves. Medigap coverage differs from state to state and has different payments.

Beyond Medicare and Medigap, there are also long-term care insurance plans that you can buy. You often see these plans advertised on the television at very low prices. These plans can help cover the costs of a nursing home or home health care. With so many different options and limitations, if you are retiring soon, you should take a look at your budget and what you can afford as well as what sort of coverage you feel you will need.

Prescription Insurance Policies

Some health insurance policies do not provide for
prescription coverage and a separate policy must be
purchased for prescription medications.

This is an area where it pays to do some homework and
research and find the best policy for you.

Prescription coverage insurance is not a necessity;
like health insurance coverage, it is a calculated
risk, although the risk is not as high.

Usually you can buy prescription insurance at any
time, so if the doctor determines that you need an
expensive maintenance drug, you may opt in at that

It is important to know that if you presently have
prescription insurance you can usually only change it
at a specific time of the year, although you can add
new prescriptions, you cant change plans.

The person who seldom takes prescription medications
probably does not need prescription insurance;
however, a person who takes maintenance drugs for high
blood pressure, diabetes, depression, heart disease or
immune disorders most likely needs insurance against
the high costs of drugs.

Prescription insurance policies usually have "tiers",
which usually means that a generic drug is at a low or
no co-pay, a tier 2 level may be the brand name
genuine, and a tier 3 may be a brand new expensive
drug that the co-pay could be a set high-percentage of
the cost.

In choosing prescription insurance, you should first
list the prescriptions that you take and the retail
amount of them. If you chose not to purchase
insurance, this would be your monthly cost.

Find out from the provider what the monthly premium
for you would be, then what the prescription co-pay
amount would be and add these two figures together.
Which is the less expensive alternative?

Monday, May 20, 2013


Medicare is a governmental program which provides
medical insurance coverage for retired persons over
age 65 or for others who meet certain medical
conditions, such as having a disability.

Medicare was signed into legislation in 1965 as an
amendment to the Social Security program and is
administered by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid
Services (CMS) under the Department of Human Services.

Medicare provides medical insurance coverage for over
43 million Americans, many of whom would have no
medical insurance. While not perfect, the Medicare
program offers these millions of people relatively low
cost basic insurance, but not much in the way of
preventative care. For instance, Medicare does not pay
for an annual physical, vision care or dental care.

Medicare is paid for through payroll tax deductions
(FICA) equal to 2.9% of wages; the employee pays half
and the employer pays half.

There are four "parts" to Medicare: Part A is hospital
coverage, Part B is medical insurance, Part C is
supplemental coverage and Part D is prescription
insurance. Parts C and D are at an added cost and are
not required. Neither Part A nor B pays 100% of
medical costs; there is usually a premium, co-pay and
a deductible. Some low-income people quality for
Medicaid, which assists in paying part of or all of
the out-of-pocket costs.

Because more people are retiring and become eligible
for Medicare at a faster rate than people are paying
into the system, it has been predicted that the system
will run out of money by 2018. Health care costs have
risen dramatically, which adds to the financial woes
of Medicare and the system has bee plagued by fraud
over the years.

No one seems to have a viable solution to save this
system that saves many people throughout the country.

How to Choose the Best Health Insurance for You

With so many different types of health insurance plans and restrictions out there, it can be difficult finding the best health insurance for you. However, this process is not impossible to do well with a little research. There are a few items to look for when deciding on health insurance plans, and by considering them all you can make a good decision for yourself and your family about health insurance.

The most important thing to look for is coverage. More often than not, insurance will cover physician visits and fees. Your health insurance should also cover hospital expenses such as room and board in case you are kept overnight or longer for observation or treatment. Good health insurance should also cover surgeries and any expenses associated with surgical treatment. Beyond these typical items of coverage, health insurance plans can diverge greatly. To really understand what coverage you would utilize and which plan would save you the most money, you will need to make a list of items that you want covered in an insurance plan. For instance, do you have glasses or contacts? Then you may be more interested in a plan that covers vision - either paying for your eye exam and/or partially paying for your glasses or contacts. Though many people think that health insurance covers prescriptions, prescription coverage is actually an optional benefit. If you know that you often have prescription drugs to fill, finding insurance that offers prescription coverage may be a must. If you are a woman and plan on having or want to have children, maternity care or family planning services are also optional benefits that you may want to consider. Once you make this must-have list of optional coverage, you can begin looking for health insurance plans that give you the opportunity to add these optional benefits.

Another item you should definitely consider is if your current physicians or specialists are included in the health insurance company's preferred provider network or if you have the opportunity to choose any physician (often the case only with indemnity or traditional health insurance plans). If you would like the freedom to choose your own doctor, traditional health insurance plans or preferred provider organizations may offer more attractive plans - though these also cost a little more.

Lastly, consider price. After researching different coverage plans and physician requirements, compare deductibles and monthly premiums to find the best deal. Often, you can get group rates through your employer, or you may find that artist organizations (for freelance artists) offer health care plans. By researching price, as well as other health insurance options, you can make the best choices for your family.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Healthcare for Long-term Patients: Is this Insurance Right for You?

Healthcare for Long-term Patients: Is this Insurance Right for You?

Long-term care insurance is not right for everyone. For a small percentage of the population this coverage is an affordable and worthwhile type of insurance. Determining whether or not long-term care insurance is right for you won't be the only task at hand; looking for scams will also be a concern.

As you get older, the need for assistance in your everyday life increases. Whether it is in-home care or residing in a nursing home for a few months you will most likely need some way to pay for these types of services. In order to maintain long-term care insurance you must pay for them each and every year until death. Many policies are canceled by policyholders that are on fixed incomes and are simply unable to pay for the increasing premiums as they get older. If the only funds you are receiving were those from Social Security or SSI, then it would be wise to not purchase a policy. Also, if you find that every day purchases and paying for utilities makes you stretch your budget to the limit, you probably should stay clear of this policy. This type of policy is only right for someone who has significant assets they want to preserve for their family, remain independent, or just to spare their family the expense of a nursing home bill.

Comparing policies can prove to be difficult because every company is selling a different combination of benefits and coverage. Many companies offer to pay a fixed amount for each day you receive care, while others will cover a percentage of the overall cost of care or supply a specified amount. Beware of these types of policies unless they offer inflation protection. You see, if they do not account for the increasing cost of nursing home costs, then you are stuck with a policy that really does you no good.

Just like a standard healthcare plan, you will have to receive services at designated locations. If you go outside of this network they will simply refuse to pay for any care that you receive. If you have any type of mental disease or nervous disorder then don't expect many carriers to accept you (the one exception is Alzheimer's). There are more restrictions in this type of insurance than any other health insurance.

If this type of policy is right for you, please make sure that the company is reputable. There are many individuals who thrive on the fact that not many people will make an informed decision when it comes to purchasing long-term health insurance. Be sure to read the fine print and find out everything you can about the policy before committing to a company and a long-term health insurance plan.

Health Savings Accounts

If you are considering changing your health insurance
policy, you should be aware of the alternative of a
Health Savings Account (HCA).

Health Savings Accounts started to become available
(and legal) in 2004, allowing people with
high-deductible insurance policies to set aside
tax-free money to fund medical expenses up to the
maximum deductible amount.

If you dont have to use the funds, it rolls over
every year. Once you reach age 65, you no longer are
required to use it for medical expenses, although you
certainly can; you can withdraw funds under the same
conditions as a regular IRA.

Although you will be penalized if you use the funds
for non-medical expenses prior to age 65, you can use
the money for vision care, alternative medicine or
treatment and dental care.

For 2008, an individual may fund up to $2,900 tax
free. The maximum deductible would be $1100 and the
maximum out-of-pocket cost would be $5,600.

For a family, the maximum tax-free contribution is
$5,800 with the maximum deductible of $2,200 and the
maximum out-of-pocket cost would be $11,200.

Health Savings Accounts are certainly a viable way to
shelter income while providing catastrophic insurance
coverage in light of the high cost of low-deductible
health insurance plans.

For healthy people, it deserves some research. Consult
with your insurance agent for all of the details
involving this approach to managing your insurance