Archive for April, 2012

Saving On Health Insurance

April 30th, 2012

There are a few ways to save on individual health insurance.  For one, make sure you know what you need as far as medical services.  What I mean by that is, know your health history and also your current health.  Many people can save money if they know what is necessary and what benefits would be a waste of money.  For instance, prescription coverage is very costly for both the health insurance carrier and the consumer.  If you know that you do not have a history of taking medications, then choose a health insurance plan that does not have rich prescription coverage.

Also, if you are generally a healthier person, then selecting a health insurance plan with a higher deductible can also save you some money.  Why?  Because health insurance carriers will give you a discount if they know you have more skin in the game.  If you are responsible for more of the upfront bills, then they will try charge you less per month.

The Future Of Healthcare Looks Cloudy

April 26th, 2012

Many people are still wondering what the real effects of the health reform will be.  Since its inception a couple of years back, there have been some changes that people have noticed.  For one, the qualifications for Medicaid have changed.  Many are now getting coverage where as before, they would not qualify.  And as a result, many now have health insurance and can get the medical services they need.  Other changes such as raising the age limit for dependents to 26 has benefited many.  Since unemployment still remains high, many are without a job and thus, can not get on an employer’s group policy.  Therefore, many younger adults are forced to stay on their parents policy until they can get health insurance on their own.  Also, the lifetime maximum has been lifted.  Meaning, that now there is no maximum amount one individual can receive in health insurance benefits.  Before, if someone had a terminal illness they would sometimes reach their lifetime maximum and would receive no further health insurance benefits.

In next few months, we should be hearing the ruling from the Supreme Court on whether they are going to let the health reform stand.  It is a big ruling as the health insurance exchanges are waiting in the balance.  Assuming the health reform stays in tact, by 2014 states are required to have exchanges up so consumers can easily shop for affordable health insurance.

Which Carrier Has The Strongest Network?

April 25th, 2012

Obviously depending on where you live, this answer may vary greatly.  However, in most parts of the United States, you will find coverage with the major health insurance carriers.  In California, the largest health insurance carrier is Anthem Blue Cross.  They have the most volume of new applications and have the most members.  The largest HMO provider in California is Kaiser.  They have the most members on the HMO side but there PPO is very weak.  In the United States, Anthem Blue Cross and United Healthcare have the largest networks.  United has the most volume and while Anthem Blue Cross has the most members.

There are some parts of the USA where carriers such as Aetna and Healthnet have large networks.  However, sometimes going with a smaller carrier can save you money.  Carriers will most times give you a discount if you go with their reduced networks.  If you do not have a particular doctor that you must have, then sometimes that is the best option to save some money.

Paying For Office Co-Pays

April 20th, 2012

Many health insurance plans have similar benefits, however, it is important to always pay attention to the benefit detail for each plan.  Some plans are stronger for medications, while others are stronger when you visit the emergency room.  A common question we always get is how much will it cost when I visit the general doctor.  Many health insurance plans cover office visits.  However, it is important to know that the benefits are not all the same.

For instance, some of the health insurance plans that have lower premiums will place limitations on visiting the doctor.  The plan might cover the first three visits, and then you pay 100% of the negotiated fee.  This may be an important thing for you to consider.  If you regularly visit the doctor, then plans that have those limitations will not work.  When you start to research and purchase plans with higher monthly premiums, then they usually give better benefits for visiting the doctor.  Some plans have unlimited visits for a fixed dollar amount.  Also be careful though that you know what the costs are for out of network visits as it can be a lot more costly.

Knowing Which Plans To Choose Is Vital

April 17th, 2012

Many consumers assume that each plan with each carrier works the same.  It is actually very untrue.  One plan that has a $5000 deductible could be very different then another plan with the same deductible.  Each carrier has different benefits within each plan that helps them differentiate from the competition.  For instance, Anthem Blue Cross usually has very competitive rates for individual health insurance plans.  However, many of their health insurance plans do not have strong medication coverage.  Some of their lower plans have huge brand deductibles that you first have to meet before you can start getting covered for medications.

Others carriers may have strong prescription coverage, but might have limitations on doctor visits.  That can get very pricey.  It is very important when researching health insurance plans that you look very closely at the benefit details of each plan.  To make matters more complicated, each carrier has their own underwriting standards.  So that means that one carrier might approve you while another may not.

Most Difficult Decisions About Health Insurance

April 16th, 2012

Most people that have started researching health insurance plans have realized that many plans are expensive.  Especially if you have recently come off a group insurance plan where your employer was contributing towards the plan, it can be quite shocking.  The best approach to this is finding out what you truly need.

It is important to not pay for things that you do not need and only find the health insurance plans that fit your health history.  For instance, some plans will charge a lot per month if the drug benefits are rich.  If you do not have a history of taking medications, then why get a health insurance plan with heavy drug benefits.  Or, on the flip side, if you need a health insurance plan with good outpatient benefits, then make sure you read the benefit detail page for each plan.  It will save you more money in the long run if you pay a little bit more per month for the health insurance plan but save when you actually start to use the medical services.  If you still can not find the right health insurance plan, then give one of our agents a call and then can assist you in finding the right plan.

Is Dental Included With Most Medical Plans?

April 12th, 2012

The fast answer here is no.  Most major medical insurance plans are stand-alone and do not include dental insurance.  There are some plans that do offer dental and the price is usually included in the monthly premium.  Medical insurance works a lot differently than dental insurance.  When applying for medical insurance, the underwriting process is much more complex.  Many people get denied for medical insurance because they may have pre-existing conditions or other complications in which the carrier thought was too risky for them to insure.  Of course, starting in 2014, no individual can be denied health insurance.  This is assuming that the Supreme Court decision in June will not throw out the reform laws.

Dental insurance does not have as much strict underwriting guidelines.  However, there are other ways insurance carriers protect themselves.  Many dental plans have 6 or 12 month waiting periods for major service.  This is to prevent people for just getting dental insurance for a surgery and then canceling right after.  Also, the benefits are also very limited when it comes to dental insurance.  The carriers will set an annual benefit maximums for each plan.

What Is Group Health Insurance?

April 9th, 2012

There are two main ways to get health insurance, one is through your employer and one is the individual or family market.  Many companies offer group health insurance to their employees.  Usually, it is more advantageous to get health insurance through your employer because the company is required to contribute to the premium.  Also, group health insurance plans are usually better in benefits than individual plans by themselves.  Another important factor to consider is the underwriting process.  With group health insurance, each individual does not have to go through underwriting and get approved.  As long as your employer meets the requirements of participation, then you are approved for your health insurance in California.  However, when you apply for individual health insurance, each applicant goes through underwriting and you may get denied.

Group health insurance plans are offered to companies of at least 2 people and you usually have to be in business for a few months.  Basic documentation is required from the corporation and then you can start to apply.  Each company has to have most of their eligible employees participate on the insurance plan.  For most carriers in California, 75% of the eligible employees must enroll in the health insurance.

 

Am I Paying Too Much For My Health Insurance Plan?

April 4th, 2012

We get this question a lot.  In fact, it might not be as easy as you might think to answer this question.  It is very important to consider the monthly cost when you are choosing a health insurance plan.  However, it is also very crucial to look at your health needs and also your families’.

When considering which health insurance plans to choose, taking a deep look into the plan benefits is important so you can fully understand what you are getting.  For instance, if medications are an important benefit for your health needs, then make sure the brand deductible is not too high when you purchase the health insurance.  Many individual health insurance plans have high brand deductibles if you want to pay little per month for the plan.  Also, if you have a history of needing certain types of surgeries, then maybe getting a plan with a low coinsurance would make the most sense.  Make sure you do the full research necessary when considering which health insurance plan to purchase.

Where Is Health Care Going?

April 2nd, 2012

Many people have been wondering what the fate of health care will be next year, or even five years from now.  The Obama administration did what many presidents before failed to do; overhauling the health care system.  For decades now, many people have been complaining about the health care system, its overly expensive cost and the inadequate management of the whole system.  The health care reform was passed two years ago with the ultimate goal of making health insurance more affordable for all consumers.  The supreme court met this week to see whether or not the health care reform is constitutional.  Many critics of the health care reform are saying that it is unconstitutional to make everyone get health insurance against their will.  Also, many critics are saying that the government management of the health care system will raise prices, not decrease them.

The supreme court decision will not be known for another couple of months.  Moreover, no one really knows if health care will ever be affordable.  The healthy are not getting insurance because they feel they do not need it.  And those who want it, can not afford to get health insurance.