The health insurance industry changed radically with the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Before this law was passed, a person with a medical condition was usually denied insurance coverage – a financial disaster for families, many of whom were forced to file for bankruptcy due to medical bills. It was a monumental change in the health insurance industry when the law went into effect – no one could be denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition.
Will my premiums go up if I use my health insurance?
Another benefit of health insurance is that if you use your insurance, your premiums will not be affected. However, most health insurance companies increase rates annually, but you will not be targeted based on your health condition.
Treat a disease or condition
Many serious illnesses, diseases or injuries require extensive medical intervention, ongoing care, surgery or other expensive treatments. An extended stay in the hospital can result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills. Your health insurance couldn̵7;t be more important in these situations. Insurance companies can no longer set an annual dollar limit on what will be paid for your care. Before the law went into effect, people with health insurance would be forced to pay any amount that exceeded the limits set by the health insurance company, but no more.
What are my own costs?
Your health insurance has three aspects that will affect your wallet:
- Deductible: The excess is the amount you have to pay before your insurance takes over. This amount is annual. The lower the premium cost, the higher the deductible. Younger people who are in good health typically buy a high-deductible plan because they believe they are less likely to need expensive medical care.
- Co-insurance:This is the amount you have to pay for your treatments or care. You may owe 30 percent of the cost, or some other percentage, based on your plan.
- Copay:This is the amount you pay when you receive medical care. Some services do not require a copy, according to the rules of the law.
Types of health insurance plans
You have many options, including plans in four categories: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. The types of plans may include:
- EPO (exclusive supplier organization): These plans require you to use the healthcare professionals in their network, except in case of a health emergency.
- HMO (Health Maintenance Organization): These plans limit where you can go for treatment to doctors contracted with that specific HMO.
- POS (Point of Service): These plans allow you to pay a lower amount for medical care when you are cared for by medical professionals in their network. These plans require a referral from your primary care physician if you need specialist care.
- PPO (Preferred Provider Organization): Although you’ll still pay less for care in the plan’s network, you can use other providers without a referral, even if you owe the extra cost.
Choosing the right health insurance plan
Choosing a health insurance plan that fits your budget can be much more difficult than expected. The information found on state or federal websites can make your head spin! Instead of wading through information that is difficult to understand, purchasing insurance, and then being shocked by the cost of premiums or the amount you owe in copays, work closely with a local agent who can help choose the best policy for your budget, which don’t come with surprises.