One of the most rapidly rising costs today for families, individuals, and companies is the cost of medical insurance. The rate increases are alarming, and many can no longer afford medical insurance. Companies don’t automatically offer health insurance for their employees as they did in the past, and are cutting back on the benefits offered. But there are many different medical insurance options available today, and if you take time to learn about them, you may be able to save on insurance, or determine that you can afford it, even if your employer doesn’t offer it.
Many people who don’t often go to see a doctor ask if they even need medical insurance. However, if you ask those that have been ill, had surgery, or that have been in an accident, medical insurance was vitally important to their financial survival. If there is a way that you can cover yourself, at east or major medical costs – catastrophic events and illnesses – then do it.
Medical insurance typically covers expenses that result from injury, illness, or accidents. Benefits cover surgery, medical, and hospital care, but can also include recovery care such as physical therapy, private home care, psychological services, etc. depending on the policy. Disability insurance is separate from medical insurance, but is very important. This type of insurance provides disability income in case you are injured and no longer able to work. Long term care insurance is a supplemental type of insurance that supplements Medicare and other policies so that long term care costs are covered in case they are needed, especially as you age.
There are several medical insurance options now available that should be compared in terms of coverage versus cost. Indemnity plans reimburse insured people for their medical expenses, and don’t limit who can provide the medical service. These plans usually have a deductible amount, and typically have percentages that are reimbursable; for example, the insurer pays 80% and the insured pays 20% of all costs.
Managed health care plans are medical insurance plans where costs are managed by the insurer by negotiating rates with select physicians, hospitals, and care providers. These plans include HMOs (Health Maintenance Organizations) and PPOs (Preferred Provider Organizations). These plans may be less costly than full service plans, but restrict the physicians, service providers, and locations where you can receive tests and care, and can also require that you pay a deductible for each doctor visit or test.
Health care spending accounts allow you to save for future health care expenses. Any medical expenses such as deductibles, vision, and other items that are not covered by your medical insurance plan can be paid from the health care spending account. These accounts are tax free, so you don’t pay federal taxes on contributions.
In determining the best medical insurance plan for you, look at the overall health of you and your family, and understand what medical services you will utilize in a given year. Compare your monthly payment versus the cost of services you normally utilize. You may be overpaying on the level of medical insurance you really need.
The key to managing medical insurance costs, whether you are covered through your employer or not, is to weigh the cost options versus your current lifestyle, age, and health status. Shop and compare several insurance providers – rates can differ widely. Make sure you understand the benefits and deductibles offered by each policy, flexibility in the physicians and service providers you can see, and ask if lab tests are included. Read the fine print in any policy you are considering.
Medical insurance is costly, but there are a many options available. Shop around, understand what is available, and compare. You may be very surprised on what you can save.
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