Category Archive - Advice

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Food Poisoning Makes Health Insurance More Expensive

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

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According to a recent study by the Pew Charitable Trusts, there’s a new reason to fully wash and/or cook your meals. Food-borne illnesses, such as E. coli and salmonella, add about $152 billion to annual health care expenses.

That figure is for the United States alone! Obviously, health insurance plans pass the cost of treating those illnesses onto you. Minor changes to the way we eat and prepare our food and drink could cut significant costs out of our health bills.

Healthcare reform, eat your heart out!

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Do State or Federal Health Insurance Requirements Apply?

Friday, May 21st, 2010

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The healthcare reform legislation creates a list of mandatory minimum coverage level, which require all health insurance options to cover certain treatments and tests.

However, 27 states and Washington, D.C. have their own coverage mandates, which extend from colon cancer and preventative care to autism therapy. In the case where they conflict, which one holds sway?

Not to worry: the broader standard will apply to health insurance companies in each state, regardless of whether it is state or federal.

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Be Careful With Cosmetic Procedures From Doctors

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

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An increasing number of physicians, including dermatologists, and dentists are offering cosmetic services in addition to their medical practice. It can be convenient to have them under the same roof. However, beware of hidden charges.

Most health insurance companies won’t cover cosmetic procedures, unless they are deemed medically necessary (i.e. an eyelid lift due to vision problems).

If your doctor or dentist recommends a procedure like Invisalign, ask them if it is actually needed. Also, be clear about the out-of-pocket cost. No matter what he or she says, most doctors know exactly what amounts various health insurance plans cover.

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Eligibility For Exchange With Employer-Based Health Insurance

Friday, May 14th, 2010

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The affordable health insurance exchanges created by the healthcare reform law are mainly intended for those who are unable to receive coverage through their employer.

However, there are several exceptions for people with employer-sponsored group health insurance. They can receive subsidies to participate in the insurance exchange market if:

  • The share of the premium that they are expected to pay exceeds 9.5% of their income, and/or
  • The employer’s plan covers under 60% of medical costs.
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Make Sure To Have Travel Health Insurance

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

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Millions of Americans are now planning their summer vacations. Keep this in mind if you’re planning to travel outside of the United States: contrary to popular belief, your current health insurance plan may not cover medical care internationally. For example, they may not have providers within your network there.

That’s why travel health insurance is so important. Medical evacuation coverage, especially, will help in the case that you become seriously ill or injured abroad and must be transported back to the United States. Specialized jets can be very expensive, while the actual coverage can be very affordable health insurance: a small percentage of the cost of your trip!

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Your Health Insurance May Cover Plastic Surgery After Weight Loss

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

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After losing a significant amount of weight, many people deal with loose skin. Although their health outcomes are clearly better, it can be dismaying to see flab after defeating obesity.

In some cases, excess skin may even result in medical discomfort, such as back pain or rashes. If you can prove that cosmetic surgery–e.g. a tummy tuck–is medically necessary for those reasons, it is possible that health insurance plans will reimburse the cost.

You are more likely to find success in having your health insurance pay for the procedure if you had gastric bypass or other weight loss surgery.

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Buying A Self Employed Health Insurance Plan

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

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As a self-employed individual, buying affordable health insurance can be difficult. In 13 states, the process is more simple: you can register as a “small business of one” and buy a policy in the small group market. That market is likely to have lower rates and fewer restrictions on pre-existing conditions.

However, in most states, you’ll need to get an individual health insurance plan if you’re self employed without at least one employee. Provisions of healthcare reform that kick in by 2014 will make finding coverage easier, but for now things haven’t changed.

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Uninsured? Don’t Get Surgery In A Home Office

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

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Really, nobody–regardless of health insurance status–should undergo surgery inside a person’s home, but the uninsured may go to desperate measures.

A case in California makes this sad point: a man died after receiving a botched $3,000 gallbladder surgery. Although such actions are technically illegal, many doctors and nurses use local anesthesia to get around the laws. Don’t forget that quite a few of these providers aren’t even real physicians!

In most cases, patients should use a hospital when having major procedures. If there is cardiac arrest or another complication, they will be better equipped to deal with it. An individual health insurance policy will usually have a network of approved hospitals and reputable surgical centers, where you can get procedures done at a discount.

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How To Avoid Medical Bankruptcy

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

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One of the most common causes of bankruptcy is medical costs. In fact, 62% of bankruptcies are the result of health care expenses. Even those who have health insurance are affected, due to crushing co-payments and co-insurance percentages! That’s why it’s essential to pick the right health insurance plan for your needs, with the correct level of benefits.

Here are some tips on avoiding these pitfalls:

  • Think twice before selecting a health savings account. High-deductible HSA plans are appealing due to lower premiums, but studies have found that people with higher deductibles are more susceptible to bankruptcy.
  • Whatever health coverage you choose, keep a separate savings account with money in the bank to pay for unexpected emergencies or other medical expenses.
  • Check with your health insurer to confirm that they actually paid the providers, even if they are responsible for the billing.
  • Ask for a copy of your bill, and look for mix-ups that could cause you to owe more than you expected.
  • If at all possible, avoid opening credit card accounts to pay for health care, even if the provider offers it to you. Credit card debt is harder to eliminate than medical debt, comes with far higher interest rates, and leaves a black mark on your record.
  • Don’t take out a home equity loan, either. Not only is it also harder to eliminate through bankruptcy, but it could also lead to you losing your home.
  • Try to negotiate a payment plan with the hospital or doctor’s office, even if you have health insurance. They may offer more favorable terms.
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Even Married Adult Children Can Use Parent’s Health Insurance!

Monday, April 26th, 2010

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One of the immediate benefits of healthcare reform is that adult children can extend their coverage on a parent’s health insurance plan as a dependent for a longer period of time–until age 26.

In most cases, that is no longer necessary once they get married; the otherwise uninsured young adult would get on their spouse’s coverage. However, the recession has put a wrinkle in that plan: their new husband or wife may be in similar circumstances. Whether he or she is unemployed, underemployed, or working for a company that does not offer health benefits, they may be unable to afford family health insurance at the moment. They may even have a pre-existing condition that prevents them from finding coverage altogether.

You can thank the package of reconciliation fixes for including this exception; the initial Senate bill that passed didn’t. In addition, you can’t stay on a parent’s plan if your employer begins offering health insurance coverage.

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