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Some Americans are putting their health insurance needs on the back burner until the media reports all Obamacare website glitches are gone. Whether that keeps you away or not, here are 5 things you can do right now to secure the best healthcare options for you, your family or your business.
1. Find out if the State you live in runs its own healthcare website. Not all States are using the federal government’s website (healthcare.gov). In fact, only 27 States are using the federal marketplace. The rest have either established their own separate site or a combination of the two. While many of the State-based websites have had their own issues, some of them, like New York, are operational and have been successful in helping residents choose their health plans. To determine if you should be using healthcare.gov or another site, contact your State’s Department of Insurance or check out this link http://www.kff.org/state-health-marketplace-profiles/
2. Determine if you or your business will qualify for a tax break. The online exchange will provide some consumers with tax subsidies to defray the cost of their health insurance premiums. Some small businesses will also be able to get a tax credit. However, not everyone will qualify. In order to qualify for an individual subsidy, you must have a household income that is not more than 400% of the Federal Poverty Level. Businesses can get tax breaks if they offer health insurance though the marketplace, pay 50% of the employee’s premium, have fewer then 25 employees and pay their employees and an annual salary of $50,000 or less. If you have having trouble using a state or federal healthcare website, you can use several online calculators to help verify your eligibility and amount of tax relief.
3. Be prepared to compare apples to apples. Too many consumers and business owners choose insurance based on price alone, only to find that it cost them big bucks on unpaid (or under paid) claims. The new marketplace will provide a variety of choices in price, carrier and coverage. If you have health insurance now, call your insurance company and request a copy of your current Benefit Summary. This way, you can make an informed comparison of benefits and accurately choose the plan most valuable to you.
4. Investigate voluntary benefits for a safety net. Supplemental voluntary benefit plans provide cash benefits directly policyholders. They can work together with health insurance to provide an affordable layer of protection for out-of-pocket costs, and loss of income due to an illness or injury. These plans can be purchased through a licensed health insurance agent rather then through the online exchange. Examples of voluntary plans include critical illness, disability income, cancer care, life insurance and others.
5. Get some free advice. Health insurance options can be confusing. It’s crucial to know how your plan will work. For example, understanding what procedures are subject to deductibles, knowing whether deductibles apply to each family member separately, determining if certain out-of-network providers will be covered and figuring out your total potential out-of-pocket costs are just a few of the important components you will need to be comfortable with. Licensed health insurance agents and brokers can help. They deal with these concepts everyday, can review your options, and most don’t charge a fee! Even better, they may have access to additional plans that are not available online.
For obtain more information or gain access to any of the programs discussed, please contact The Fonti Group:
Address: 223 Wall Street, Huntington, NY 11743
As critics and supporters of Obamacare anxiously await the implementation of a new health insurance marketplace, little is know for sure about it’s overall effect on the costs associated with an illness or injury. Supporters assure us that the Affordable Care Act will result in lower health insurance premiums and deductibles. Critics are quick to refute that and point to additional costs imposed on insurance companies to provide more coverage, deal with new taxes on pharmaceuticals, and the possibility of anti-selection driving up claims. Whatever the outcome, when an American gets sick or injured, there are expenses, not covered by any health insurance plan, that can cause financial disaster.
A recent Harvard University study sited that over 60% of U.S. bankruptcies were due, at least in part, to the indirect costs associated with an illness or accident. This includes items such as loss of income to one or more family members, household bills, travel costs to seek treatment, and other household expenses. Health insurance plans were never designed to cover these expenses. Since 76% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, many are forced to borrow from friends or family, try to get a second mortgage, sell assets, or simply default on their obligations.
The insurance community has responded with supplemental insurance plans that provide cash benefits directly to families regardless of how much their health insurance may be paying physicians and hospitals. There are expanded options for disability insurance and some carriers even offer guaranteed issue for employees who have a history of illness. American workers aren’t the only ones concerned about healthcare costs. In a recent Workforce Study by Aflac, almost 40% of employers say controlling medical costs is a top issue and that more than half of the country’s employers are giving employees the choice of purchasing supplemental benefits such as short-term disability, accident, critical illness, dental and life plans.
It may take some time to determine the success or failure of healthcare reform. In the meantime, supplemental benefits will continue to gain popularity as a solution to the need for cash.
Sometimes it’s hard to get to the doctor. Maybe you are too busy taking care of everything but your health. Maybe you just can’t take off another day at work. Maybe you don’t feel like sitting in the emergency room on a Sunday afternoon or packing up all the kids to sit and wait. Or maybe you are a college student away at school and feel too sick to leave your dorm room or know that a trip to the infirmary often means a lengthy wait that can interfere with classes. Telemedicine can be the answer. It’s a service that gives you access to nurses and board certified physicians 24 hours a day. (more…)
It’s hard to admit, but I am old enough to remember a time when a trip to the doctor meant a payment in full before leaving the physician’s office. Back then, many of us only had health insurance for hospital stays and didn’t expect to use it unless we had some sort of catastrophe. Well times sure have changed. Now we use our insurance plans for every possible healthcare encounter. We do our best to insure that our physicians are in our “network” and hope our medications are available in the less expensive generic form. We try to keep up with the changes in healthcare and coverage. (more…)
It seems like every time I read the news there is another story about someone in financial trouble because of a sickness or injury. These are good people. These are folks like you and me; working hard to take care of themselves and their families. Most recently, I read an article about a school teacher who was diagnosed with cancer. The story didn’t focus on her illness as much as the difficulty and wait time she endured trying to get social security disability payments. Her illness presents many challenges and her road to recovery will be rough, but she seemed equally concerned with (more…)