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Financial Literacy Month blog

We hope you enjoy reading some of our thoughts as we join you on the path to financial wellness and we encourage you to yours. If you would like to follow our path on a more micro-level, we will be using twitter to chronicle our days.

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Perform a preventative health insurance check-up

Posted by Kim McGrigg on 4/26/2008

Being sick or hospitalized can leave you with a feeling of helplessness and the high cost of health care can make the situation even worse.  Unfortunately, medical debt can quickly become overwhelming, causing it to be one of the leading causes of bankruptcy.  A study by Harvard Law School and Harvard Medical School found that illness and medical bills cause about half of the personal bankruptcies filed.

Hopefully, you will never face a situation that causes you to incur a lot of medical debt.  However, if something were to happen to you or a member of your family, you will want to be prepared.  The best plan of action is to take some preventative measures before injury or illness strikes.  One great way to do this is to perform a check-up on your health insurance benefits.

Does your plan cover pre-existing conditions?  Sometimes, a plan may not cover treatments for an ongoing medical condition.  Find out if there are there limitations or a waiting period involved in your coverage.

Is the coverage sufficient?  Find out exactly what services are covered and learn what preventive services are offered. Ask if there limits on medical tests, out-of-hospital care, mental health care and prescription drugs.

What does it cost? Research your premiums and co-payments.  Explore the difference in cost between using doctors in the network and those outside it.  Find out if there a limit to the maximum you would pay out-of-pocket.

What are my other options? Even if your current insurance plan seems to be adequate, it might be wise to review all of your options. There are many types of insurance such as HMOs, PPOs and fee-for-service. Many people are also able to get group insurance through membership in a professional association, club or other organization. You might also look into individual insurance options.

Whatever you do, do not be tempted to allow your insurance to lapse.  Unfortunately, the number of people who have no health insurance coverage is growing. According to a U.S. Census Bureau report, there are now 46.6 million uninsured U.S. residents. If you become unemployed, you may have the right to extend your coverage through COBRA (for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985).  The government also offers programs, such as Medicaid, for people with low-incomes. Also check with your local state government about health insurance programs for adults and children.
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