Redundancy, a cut in wages and the general state of the economy are all factors that are pushing us to find ways and means of saving money and reducing our monthly outgoings. Sadly with this in mind there has been an increase in the amount of people who are cutting out medical insurance
. However tempting this may be, it is important to remember that medical insurance is vital. At times it may feel as though you are paying for something you are not using and you may feel there is no point in continuing with your payments, especially if you have a good record of health but what if you were to become involved in an accident?
I agree that when it comes to your health it is important to find affordable medical insurance coverage with this in mind there are certain things that you should do to save money when you are deciding on the policy that you wish to buy. However not taking a policy out at all is not an option. If you were involved in an accident and you needed treatment, how would you pay for it? Even minor injuries from an accident could cause a massive dent in your monthly income, so with this in mind, imagine how much you would end up paying out for on going treatment for an illness or life saving surgery after an accident.
There is a common saying that states you can't put a price on life, however true this may be, a medical insurance policy is a pretty good place to start. Many of us rely on this health care coverage to come from our employers, however with increased job losses and a strain on the economy we can no longer rely on our employment to cover our medical bills, which it why you should be looking at affordable policies that you can take out yourself.
There are a lot of policies open to you such as preferred provider organizations (PPOs), health maintenance organizations (HMOs), point-of-service (POS) plans and fee-for-service plans. All of these can generally be broken down to either be classed as indemnity plans or managed care. Indemnity includes fee-for-service plans and managed care revolves around health maintenance organizations.
Indemnity policies tend to give you more freedom as you only pay for the health care you receive, however this does mean that you will pay more out of pocket for the health care you receive. With indemnity policies however you get to choose your doctor and hospital, however you aren't covered for aspects such as flu shots or birth control.
It is important to remember the policy you opt for shouldn't just revolve around how much you are paying a month. You could find the cheapest policy possible but this doesn't necessarily mean it is the most affordable. The most affordable policy is the one that gives you everything you need to be covered for at a price you can truly afford. It is vital that your chosen medical insurance policy covers you for the right amount of possibilities; otherwise you could be paying your monthly premium only to find out that you have to pay more if something happens to you that isn't covered by your insurance.
It is only when you consider aspects such as this when you are taking out your medical insurance that you will truly get the cheapest policy that is open to you. So whether you are hoping for an indemnity plans or managed care, check what you are paying for before you commit to anything in order to get the best care possible for the price you are paying.
Taking out a medical insurance
policy isn't something that should be done carelessly. When you are taking out such a policy there are a number of aspects that you should keep in mind, including what you expect from your policy and your monthly budget. It is also vital that you consider what type of medical insurance policy that you wish to take out.
There are a number of policies available to you when it comes to your chosen health care plan, two examples of which are private or group medical insurance. Every policy available to you has an array of services and these are no exception. However deciding whether to opt for a private or group policy is one of the most important decisions you can make when it comes to the health care cover you take out. So what are the differences between the two and which one will benefit you the most?
The biggest difference between these two medical insurance policies is how they are supplied. A private medical insurance plan is something that you take out yourself whereas a group plan is provided to you via your employment. In some cases you may not even have a choice between these two policies, I say this because some employers may not actually offer you group insurance. In cases such as this you should look into the most valuable form of private insurance available to you and when I say valuable I don't just mean the price. Although it is important that you take out a policy that is value for money, it is more important that said policy covers you for the greatest amount of complications possible, but what if you do have the choice between the two?
There are a number of benefits associated with taking out a group health insurance policy, for example you are offered smaller premiums, better tax concessions and an extended length of coverage and best of all pretty much all business owners are able to offer this to you. With this type of medical insurance coverage your premiums would basically be decided based on your work and the other employees as oppose to simply your healthcare background. Factors such as the average age of employees and the nature of your work as well as the history of illness amongst employees would all be taken into consideration.
What this type of policy basically means is that your employer will provide you with comprehensive healthcare cover as oppose to you having to take out a separate policy yourself. They way in which this is usually paid is the amount you have to pay will be taken out of your monthly wages. The biggest reason for taking out this policy is defiantly the amount of money you would be saving, so why should you consider taking out a private policy?
If there is a history of illness connected with the people you work with or your fellow employees are considerably older than you then there is a chance a private policy would be cheaper. Basically this form of medical insurance exists as a means of giving you peace of mind. You are reassured that if you are ill or injured that treatment will be available to you and as a private patient you have a lot more choice open to you.
You choose where your treatment will take place and who treats you and during your hospital stay you would have your own en-suite room as well as other home comforts to make your recovery as easy as possible. You also have a choice of policy. If you take out group medical insurance you are restricted to the type of policy they have in place. However if you take out a private plan you pick the policy most tailored to your needs and budget.
Ultimately with a private policy you are more in control and all of the choices surrounding your policy are made by you but this does mean you will probably be paying more money than if you took out your insurance with your employer. The most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to choosing between these two is that you make your decision based purely on your needs. Take the advantages and disadvantages of each and apply them to your personal circumstances, this way you are making the most of your policy and you will be paying for something that can only benefit you and not something that when it comes down to it won't help you.
When we settle down and start a family of our own there are a few aspects that we need to give us peace of mind. Good health, stability and financial security are high on our list, so with this in mind there has never been more of an important time than now to take out a family medical insurance
plan but with so much choice on the market how can you be sure that the plan you are taking out is the right one for you and for your family? To help you decide take a look at some of the most popular medical insurance
plans designed for you and your family;
Fee-for-Service Plans Family Medical Insurance
This is not only one of the most traditional types of medical insurance but also one of the most popular among families. With this policy the way it works is your insurer only pays part of your doctor and hospital bills and you pay a monthly fee, which acts as your policies premium. With this policy you are basically given the most choice when it comes to which doctor carries out any treatment you need and the hospital in which you have this treatment carried out. You can use any hospital in the country and there is no need to merely stick with the one doctor as you can change if you wish. What this means for your family is that they are given access to the best care possible at no extra cost to you, giving you complete peace of mind if anything were to happen.
With this policy you are offered two forms of coverage; basic or major. The cost of your hospital room and the care you receive are covered by the basic form, along with some services including x-rays and medication. You can also use this cover for the cost of surgery but all of these are generally only on a short term basis. For long term, high cost illness or injury it is a major policy that will benefit you the most.
Point-of-Service Plans, known in short as POS
Within this family policy it is possible for primary care doctors in a POS plan to make referrals to other providers in the plan. However it is also possible for you to refer yourself or members of your family outside of the plan as a means of getting coverage. However if you do this you will have to pay extra, known as coinsurance, whereas if your doctor does it then your plan will pay all of your medical bills.
Health Maintenance Organizations, HMO
What this policy represents is a prepaid health plan. It involves you paying a monthly premium, so what do you get for this? Well you and your family are provided with comprehensive care, which includes doctor's visits, hospital stays and any emergency care that is received as well as surgery, various tests and x-rays and therapy.
Although with this policy you may have to pay $5 for a doctor's visit or $25 for hospital emergency room treatment, the overall cost of your medical treatment will be a lot lower than, for example, a fee-to-service plan. However your choice of doctors and hospitals will be a lot more restricted.
The above are just a few examples of the medical insurance plans that are available to you and your family. Just ensure that before you decide on the healthcare plan you are going to take out that you weigh up what each of the polices has to offer you in order to get the most from the policy that you do decide to take out.
BestHealthCareRates.com urges consumers to obtain copies of their MIB file in wake of the changes to the medical insurance market that sweeping government healthcare reform could pose.
With so much uncertainty swirling around the prospect of government-run healthcare, BestHealthCareRates.com believes consumers should exercise control over their medical insurance options to the greatest extent possible.
One way to do that is to ensure that inaccurate information is not preventing them from obtaining the private medical insurance for which they rightly qualify. A consumer can only know if the information being used by insurance companies is accurate if they request their file from the MIB Group.
The MIB Group is a membership-owned corporation that maintains information files on many Americans who have applied for individual private medical insurance or a life insurance policy. Information contained in that file is used by health insurance companies in deciding whether to extend coverage to an individual.
The type of information which MIB collects and distributes includes medical conditions, results of tests, unhealthy lifestyle choices, potentially hazardous occupations or hobbies and driving histories, such as traffic tickets.
"Choice" is the rallying cry of both sides of the debate over healthcare reform. Citizens and politicians alike have voiced concerns over whether individuals will still be able to retain their current private medical insurance if new government-run healthcare options were to emerge. BestHealthCareRates.com suggests that consumers retain their right to choice by first protecting their choice. If false negative information is contained in your MIB file, then your choice has already been limited.
Approximately 470 insurance companies belong to the MIB, which means any information the MIB has about you and your health will affect whether or not any of those 470 companies will insure you. The good news is that the MIB is subject to the US Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, which means individuals have a right to a copy of their MIB file.
Cost is another hot button issue in the healthcare reform debate. The cost of medical insurance is also an issue in which BestHealthCareRates.com has a deeply vested interest. The company is committed to connecting consumers with the most affordable healthcare options available to them. In furtherance of this commitment, BestHealthCareRates.com wants consumers to know that what's in their MIB file could be costing them.
A person's overall health affects the amount of money they pay for their medical insurance. If an MIB file paints an inaccurate picture of your health, says BestHealthCareRates.com, you could be paying more for your medical insurance than you would otherwise have to. That is yet another reason why BestHealthCareRates.com encourages consumers to call the MIB's toll-free number (866-692-6901) to request a copy of their file, if one exists.
Medical insurance plans are a confusing mass of acronyms and insurance industry jargon. This article breaks down the four major types of medical insurance plans in plain English and with no fluff.
Medical insurance plans have more acronyms than the federal government. With all the talk of HMOs, PPOs and a whole other host of abbreviations, it isn't always easy to understand exactly what each of these medical insurance plans are all about. What consumers need is a straight-forward guide to the major types of health insurance plans, including what it is and how it differs from the other main types.
If you're fed up with rhetoric and overwhelmed by all the political debate and you just want simple answers to your simple questions, then you've found the right article. Below is a brief overview of each of the four major types of medical insurance plans, plain and simple.
Preferred Provider Organization (PPO): With PPO medical insurance plans, the full expense of the medical treatment is covered as long as the treatment is provided by a doctor or hospital that belongs to the PPO's network of providers - hence the term "preferred providers." Treatment that is obtained outside the network is covered at a reduced rate. It is the patient's responsibility to make up the difference.
Health Maintenance Organization (HMO): HMOs place considerable restrictions on the non-emergency treatments that a patient may obtain. The upside of an HMO, however, is that the premiums are significantly lower than other medical insurance plans. Minimal paperwork is another benefit of an HMO plan.
With HMO medical insurance plans the patient pays a monthly premium. Sometimes there is a small co-payment. Patients have a primary care physician who then refers them to specialists when necessary.
HMOs are somewhat controversial because, the argument goes, doctors have a financial incentive for reducing the amount of medical treatments provided to the patient.
Fee-for-service: A fee-for-service plan is the traditional type of medical insurance plan. With fee-for-service medical insurance plans the patient is able to choose any doctor they want and can change doctors at any time.
The patient pays a monthly fee which is called a premium. Also, the patient has a deductible, which is a set amount of money the patient must pay out of pocket for medical treatment before insurance payments kick in.
Once the deductible has been met, the insurance company pays a portion of the bill. For example, the insurance company might pay 80% while the patient pays 20% of the final bill for the treatment. Often there is a ceiling or cap on the amount of out-of-pocket expenses the patient must pay, at which point the insurance company pays 100% of the bill.
Point-of-Service Plans (POS): POS medical insurance plans are actually indemnity-type options which are offered by many HMOs. With a POS plan, the policy holder can elect to see a physician outside of the network and still receive some coverage while making a co-payment. Because of this, POS plans are often described as being a combination of an HMO and a fee-for-service plan.
If the patient's primary care physician makes the referral, then the insurance company covers most or all of the bill. The patient chooses their primary care physician from members of the plan's network.
While these overviews paint a good general picture of how each medical insurance plan operates, consumers should always conduct careful research before choosing their health insurance coverage. Even within a general category, such as a PPO, there can be considerable differences in coverage, co-pays and other critical issues.
Medical debt is a contributed factor in more than half of all bankruptcies filed in the United States. Many family health insurance policies prove to be safety nets with gaping holes.
When an individual obtains family medical insurance, they believe they are protecting themselves and their family both medically and financially. The cold hard numbers, however, cannot be ignored. Not every family medical insurance policy is adequate to provide true peace of mind - or to provide sufficient coverage in the event of a serious illness.
A recent Harvard study shows that family health insurance isn't necessarily protection from financial ruin. Of all the bankruptcies filed in the United States in 2007, the study concludes, medical debt contributed to 62% of them.
The study was a joint research project carried out by Harvard Medical School and Harvard Law School. It encompasses an in-depth study of bankruptcies brought on by medical bills. Questionnaires answered by bankruptcy filers, along with their court records, made up the data used to reach the study's conclusions.
Contrary to common thinking, medical bankruptcy isn't limited to those without family medical insurance. For the under-insured, thousands of dollars of out-of-pockets costs can lead to bankruptcy. In fact, of those who faced medical bankruptcy, nearly 80% actually had family medical insurance at the start of their illness but were nonetheless buried in medical bills.
The initial Harvard study was conducted in 2001. Since then, medical bankruptcies have increased by 50%. The lead author of the study makes the bold statement that "Unless you're Bill Gates, you're just one serious illness away from bankruptcy."
An outcry over family medical insurance policies with meager coverage for serious illnesses was sparked by the results of the study. The obvious question that arises from the spotlight on the wide scale problem of inadequate insurance is whether government-mandated healthcare reform is the answer. It's a question that continues to raise heated debate.
One thing is for sure: the problem of woefully inadequate family health insurance won't be remedied solely by any government-run healthcare program. What the Harvard study and others like it make clear is that the root cause isn't whether or not you have insurance. The real issue lies in the extent of the coverage.
Patient advocates are urging lawmakers to include provisions in the final legislation that would guarantee a base level of coverage to health insurance policy holders. Solutions being considered by the House and the Senate include minimum standards for family medical insurance and other health insurance coverage as well as a cap on out-of-pocket expenses.
Many argue that government-run healthcare is an extreme solution to a problem that could be handled through specific legislation that targets limited benefit health insurance. They point to the obvious conclusion presented by the study that health insurance in and of itself is not the answer. Having family medical insurance did not save hundreds of thousands of individuals from bankruptcy.
Those shopping for family medical insurance should also be aware of the fine print in their policies. The overall quality of family medical insurance should be considered. Premium costs are only one factor that should go into the equation. If and until any minimum coverage standards are implemented, family medical insurance shoppers should take the time to educate themselves. Careful research and scrutiny of police limitations is key to securing family medical insurance that truly protects you and your family.
Medical insurance - are there two more dreaded words that can be spoken to a small business owner? Small business medical insurance, however, offers numerous benefits and tax advantages that make it well worth the cost of premiums.
Medical insurance for employees of small businesses is a hot button issue. Approximately 45 million U.S. residents do not have medical insurance. Of those, about 20 million are employees, or a family member of an employee, of a business that has 50 or fewer employees. For companies that have more than 50 employees, more than 96% of workers have medical insurance. That number is only about 43% for small businesses.
What accounts for this phenomenon? You hear over and over again that employee medical insurance is one of the biggest expenses that a business owner faces. What exactly, though, are those expenses? The business owner is required to pay a percentage of the employee's individual premium. Typically this percentage ranges between 25% and 50%. If coverage is extended to the employee's family members, the employer cannot elect, but is not required, to also pay a percentage of those premiums.
In addition, small businesses typically must pay larger premiums than businesses with more than 50 employees. State requirements that certain conditions, treatments and providers be covered by the group health insurance policy is another reason that small business medical insurance can be costly.
Small business medical insurance applies to businesses that employ between 2 to 50 people. Any permanent, compensated employee that works at least 25 hours per week is typically eligible to enroll in a small business health plan.
Despite the costs, small business medical insurance has very real benefits. When you're able to offer health insurance to job applicants, you are guaranteed to have a more talented pool of candidates to choose from. As we're reminded of daily in the news, quality medical insurance is a major concern for Americans.
Retention is another benefit of small business medical insurance. It costs you less to retain an employee than to seek out and train a new employee. If your employees are getting medical insurance from you, they won't jump ship to take a job with another employer simply to obtain medical insurance.
Last but absolutely not least, a healthy employee is a more productive employee. Having healthy employees, like the retention issue mentioned above, saves you money. When an employee is out on a paid sick day, you're shelling out the cash without getting any of the work. So although you're paying part of your employees' premiums, you're saving money in other areas by offering medical insurance.
Shopping for medical insurance plans is about as much fun as a root canal. You can make it easier, however, by following this simple guide to narrowing down your choices in a logical way.
Not all medical treatments are covered by every health insurance policy. Before you start searching for medical insurance plans, sit down and make a list of your priorities. Which types of coverage, procedures and treatments are "must haves" for you and your family? For example, do you want and/or need:
- Hospital care
- Office visits to your primary care physician
- Maternity care
- Tests and x-rays
- Mental health care
- Well-baby care
- Prescription drugs
- Nursing home care
One important area to explore when looking for medical insurance plans is the amount of personal choice you have with regard to which doctors you can see. Some plans won't cover your expenses if you see a physician outside of their network. Find out the answers to these questions for all of the medical insurance plans you are considering:
- Can I keep my current health care provider?
- Do I have to choose my physician from a network of preferred providers?
- Are referrals required to see a specialist? Or can I elect to see a specialist on my own and still receive some coverage?
- If there is a network, how much, if any, of my medical bills will be covered if I see a physician outside of the network?
Now for the biggie: cost. Cost is undoubtedly the number one factor that the vast majority of consumers look at when shopping for medical insurance plans. Costs come in number of different forms...premiums, co-pays and costs for seeing physicians outside of the network, if applicable. That is why you need to take each and every expense into account when choosing a health insurance policy, not just the premium.
Find the answers to these questions for all of the medical insurance plans you are looking at:
- Is there a deductible? If so, how much is it?
- Is there a cap on the amount of out-of-pocket expenses I will have to pay?
- How much are the premiums?
- Is there a co-payment? If so, how much is it?
- Does the policy cover the cost of prescription drugs?
- Is there a cap on the amount of expenses the policy will pay for any specific illness or injury?
- Which, if any, "high risk lifestyle choices" (such as smoking or riding a motorcycle) will increase the cost of coverage?
Consider your convenience as well. Dealing with health insurance paperwork and trips to the doctor aren't exactly a walk in the park. Any way that you can the process easier is a good thing. When searching for medical insurance plans, find out about:
- The location of the doctors and hospitals in the network
- How easy it is to get a timely appointment
- The amount of paperwork
This is by no means a comprehensive list of the factors to consider when you are searching through medical insurance policies. Rather, it is a starting place for narrowing down your choices. For instance, if you absolutely want to have free choice of doctors, then Policy A, an HMO, can be ruled out. No matter your personal preferences, take the time to find out the answer to all of the above questions to ensure that you are getting a policy that is not only affordable but also meetings your needs and preferences.
You don't have to give up an arm - or a leg - to find affordable medical insurance. All you need is some solid advice on how to locate affordable medical insurance and how to reduce your expenses.
Finding affordable medical insurance may seem like searching for the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow - a nice little fantasy. Most health insurance companies aren't exactly advertising low, low savings and unbelievable deals. The good news is that it is possible to obtain affordable medical insurance. All you need is these tips and a good health care policy search engine.
Widen your search
The first step in any comparison shopping is to look at as many of your options as possible. When looking for affordable health insurance, that means comparing all the plans available to you. If you only compare 5 or 6 plans, you could be missing out on the best deal for your budget.
Using an online health insurance search engine
An excellent, and easy, way to search for affordable medical insurance is to use one of the health insurance search engines widely available online. These search engines are free to use, and give you instant access to an enormous database of available insurance policies. You can limit your search according to the criteria that fits your situation.
Healthcare insurance rate search engines are great because there's no confusing jargon, no phone calls to make and you don't have to wade through dozens of health insurance websites or brochures. All of the pertinent information is laid out for you side-by-side in a format that makes comparisons simple.
Raise your deductible
One way to make your medical insurance more affordable is to raise your deductible. A deductible is the amount of money you have to pay (say $500) before your insurance policy kicks in and starts contributing. For healthy individuals, a higher deductible is a promising option that will result in much lower annual premiums. However, for individuals who are ill or make lots of hospital visits, a higher deductible won't be a good choice.
Secure an insurance policy while you're healthy
We can't always control our health, but we can control when we purchase our health insurance. To get more affordable medical insurance, secure a policy while you're in good health. For obvious reasons, insurance companies are willing to give less expensive plans to those who are less likely to need much medical treatment.
Nix the unnecessary extras
Take a close look at everything that your health insurance policy covers. Are there areas of coverage you're very unlikely to need? For example, if no one in your family wears glasses or contacts, you may not need vision coverage. Just be sure to go through the policy carefully and cut away at unnecessary extras with a scalpel and not a hatchet. You don't want to get so caught up in saving money that you eliminate services you're likely to need.
Tax-free savings account
A tax-free savings account allows you to deposit pre-tax income into an account that you can draw from to pay expenses that your health insurance policy doesn't cover. These are referred to as health savings accounts, HSA for short. You save a bit of money by reducing the amount of taxable income you bring in.
This really just scratches the surface of ways that you can secure affordable medical insurance. So don't get discouraged by all the talk of health insurance costing a small fortune. If you're a savvy shopper and utilize the convenient online tools available to you, you can find affordable medical insurance.
They know who you are, whether you smoke and how fast you drive. If you're applying for medical insurance, you need to know what the MIB knows.
What does medical insurance have in common with the CIA, Freemasons and the Skull and Bones society? Your eligibility for medical insurance just may be shrouded in the mysterious folds of an organization the general public knows little about. There are no secret handshakes or enigmatic symbols, but it does have a coding system known only by its employees and members.
What is this ominous-sounding organization? It's the MIB Group, formerly known as the Medical Information Bureau, and it provides information to insurance companies that can make or break a consumer's medical insurance application. Though the MIB has been in existence since 1902, most consumers have not heard of it.
The MIB is described as a "membership corporation," and is owned by approximately 470 insurance companies who make up the MIB's membership. The MIB's stated mission is to detect and deter fraud that may occur during the course of a person obtaining medical insurance, life insurance, disability income and other types of healthcare insurance. It protects insurance companies from being defrauded by an applicant who knowingly or unknowingly omits critical information or lies.
The MIB is a lot like a credit reporting agency. It provides information to insurance companies to help them decide whether or not to provide medical insurance to an applicant. The information also helps the insurance company determine the patient's premiums.
Not everyone has a report on file with the MIB. If you have not applied for medical insurance or an individual life insurance policy within the last 7 years, then you do not have an MIB report. According to figures reported by the MIB, the organization collects information on around 15% to 20% of people who have applied for either medical insurance or life insurance policies.
The MIB's similarity to credit reporting agencies isn't a superficial one. The U.S. government classifies the MIB as a consumer reporting agency, which means it must comply with both the US Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act. That means consumers have the right to a copy of the information reported by the MIB to medical insurance companies. In fact, you have access to one free MIB report each year.
Some of the information collected and reported by the MIB includes:
- Medical conditions
- Medical test results
- Negative habits such as drugs, alcohol abuse, smoking and overeating
- Hazardous occupations and/or hobbies
- Poor driving history
Information collected about the MIB stays in a consumer's files for seven years. Also, a consumer's record will indicate which, if any, members have requested their information within the previous 12 months.
Because this information can affect a person's ability to obtain medical insurance, consumers are encouraged to check with the MIB and to request their report if one exists. That way the consumer can check the report for accuracy and will be aware of any issues which may negatively impact their ability to qualify for medical insurance. Consumers have the ability to dispute any of the information on their report through the MIB's dispute process.
To request your file, phone the MIB by calling their toll-free number: 866-692-6901. You will be asked to provide certain personal identifying information, and only you can request your file. A consumer's guide to the MIB is available on the group's website at http://www.mib.com/.