Read these 10 Finding Health Insurance Resources Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Health Insurance tips and hundreds of other topics.
A broker is someone that can help not only help the best insurance at the best price for you an your family, but can explain what you are getting from your insurance, and even find a group for you to join or help you sign up for your state's high risk pools. Make the insurance broker meet your needs and show you in writing everything you discuss, especially “luxury items” such as dental care, eye care, and organ transplantation.
It's important to inquire as to whether the agent has confirmed the regulatory status of the company, the plan and the third-party administrator. Are the company and third-party administrator licensed to do business in the state? Is the policy approved for sale?
The National Association of Insurance Underwriters, www.nahu.org or the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), www.naic.org, can help put you in touch with a reputable broker. The key is to find a broker that has a “large book” that you can trust, who knows what policies are best for your individual needs.
Wondering how to go about finding health insurance resources? Try America's Health Insurance Plans. America's Health Insurance Plans is a national trade association that has nearly 1,300 member companies that provide health benefits to more than 200 million U.S. citizens. The organization's Web site includes a consumer information page where you can find facts and figures as well as consumer guides on individual and group health insurance, managed care, long-term health insurance, and information specifically for business owners.
The United States Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) has an entire section on its Web site dedicated to health insurance benefits education for small business owners. The site includes information on compliance issues for small business employers, a F.A.Q., and tips on how to protect your employees when choosing a group health insurance plan. You can Contact your regional EBSA office through its toll-free number at 866-444-3272 or by visiting AskEBSA.dol.gov.
If you are you thinking about buying health insurance online, be careful that you understand exactly what you are paying for your money before investing in anything. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), a division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, is a treasure trove of online health insurance information. The consumer and patient section of AHRQ includes guides not only on health insurance choices and how to pick a quality health insurance plan, but also includes articles on everything from prevention and wellness to prescriptions and specific medical conditions. To start your education, visit AHRQ.gov.
Insurance laws vary from state to state. To find information on insurance regulations in your state, the first place to check is with your state's insurance commission. Just about all states have a Web site from which the state's insurance regulations are downloadable. If you have questions about what you are reading, you should also be able to find a contact telephone number on the Web site to call for help. Another helpful site you may wish to check into is HealthInsuranceInfo.net. The Web site is funded by grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, AARP, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, and other reputable nonprofit groups. From the site you can download a copy of Georgetown University Health Policy Institute's Consumer Guide for Getting and Keeping Health Insurance. There are 51 versions, each tailored to each state plus the District of Columbia. The guides are summaries, so you may still need to contact your state insurance commission for some questions.
If you are one of the millions of working parents who cannot afford to buy health insurance for your children, finding health insurance resources that you can trust can be difficult. You should check out InsureKidsNow.gov. InsureKidsNow.gov, one of a number of online health insurance solutions sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, is a campaign to spread the word about low-cost child health insurance options available to the estimated 10 million uninsured children throughout the United States. The site, which includes a question and answer section, has links to low-cost insurance programs for kids in all 50 states. If you prefer, you can call InsureKidsNow.com at 1-877-KIDS-NOW (1-877-543-7669).
Finding health insurance resources that are reliable is not hard. The Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education (LIFE), formed in 1994, is a nonprofit organization devoted to educating consumers about life, health, disability, and long-term health insurance. LIFE represents 160,000 insurance agents and disseminates educational information to insurance consumers. You can read online health insurance information on choosing the right plan for your needs and download a printable consumer guide from LIFE's Web site. There is also a thorough glossary of terms you need to understand when shopping for health insurance online or offline.
You probably already know that you can research and buy health insurance online, but what you may not know is that there are resources to help you understand the complicated mind boggling health insurance industry terms. Finding health insurance resources to help you better understand the world of health insurance can be very beneficial. Many insurance product portals include excellent glossaries. One such resource is Healthinsurance.org, which claims to have been providing answers to health insurance-related questions since 1994. You can also find help deciphering health insurance terminology at the Federal Consumer Information Center's Web site.
Got an earache or soar throat? Visit a walk-in clinic found at retail stores like CVS and Wal-Mart or got to a community health clinic for a physical or to pick up birth control pills. In the retail store, the cost can be about $25 to $100 for treating minor ailments, or about 25% less than the cost of care in a doctor's office. Some of the retail stores take insurance, but most will make you pay this discounted price, which may come out significantly less than your co-pay and deductible combine. Plus, no appointment is necessary, and patients are usually in and out within 15 minutes.
On the other hand community clinics bill according to you income, so be sure you have you W-2, payment stubs, and social security information available. Most of these clinics are funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), which is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. These clinics vary in the types of services that they provide. You might want to call in advance because every clinic is different and offer slightly different services depending on what the state has allocated for the year. A directory of health centers can be found at www.ask.hrsa.gov/pc.
Most insurance plans will pay only what they call a “reasonable and customary fee” for a particular service. If your doctor charges $2,500 for a colonoscopy, while most doctors in your area charge only $1,500, you will be billed for the $1000 difference. This is in addition to the deductible and coinsurance you would be expected to pay. To avoid this additional cost, ask your doctor, hospital or billing department how much the procedure will cost and find out if the providers accept your insurance and if your insurance has them on their list. You may have to ask for the diagnostic code for the procedure and call other providers to get a sense of what the customary charge is for that procedure in your area and go back to your insurance company with your findings. Be sure to document the date, your insurance contact's name and contact information. If you can, try to get their answer in writing before you continue with the procedure, or even with the insurance, thus, if you are denied coverage in the end, for something you were told was approved, you have the documentation and you can appeal to your insurer. If you do not get results, you can then go to the state department of insurance with all your documentation in hand.
Even if you lose your battle against your insurance company, your message will start to be heard and you can start investigating other insurance companies “who play fare," and be sure to start writing letters to elected officials and key executives at your insurance company.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|