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9 years ago · by · Comments Off on Five Things You Don’t Know about Health Insurance

Five Things You Don’t Know about Health Insurance

Medical insurance changes constantly.  The more knowledge you have about private health insurance the more likely you are to find the plan that offers the best value for you and your family.  If you are surprised by the five things listed below, you may want to find a reputable insurance broker who can help you select your policy.

Your zip code matters.

Your location can have a big impact on your premiums.  People will tend to visit doctors and hospitals close to their homes.  Since doctors in different locations can charge differently, your location can impact the cost of your health care.

The cost your insurance company has to pay is passed on to you the consumers.  If doctors charge more in your area, your insurance premiums will probably be higher as well.

Your family may pay less if you purchase separate health insurance policies.

This is not true with most companies or with most families.  However, many insurance companies use rating systems that are biased towards certain types of families.

An insurance policy that covers one parent and a child may be more expensive than two separate policies that cover the same two people.  A policy that covers parents in their fifties and a child or children may also cost more.  Policies that cover maternity may be loaded up with extra benefits that you find unnecessary.  The family members that don’t need maternity insurance will often do better by purchasing separate policies.

Group Insurance is usually more expensive than individual insurance plans.

Most people are used to a world where buying in bulk means that you getting things more cheaply.  A gallon of water costs less per ounce than purchasing separate small bottles of water that add up to a gallon.

This isn’t usually true for health insurance.  Group health insurance policies usually are forced by law to accept les healthy people.  This drives the cost of the policies higher.  Since individual health insurance policies are usually underwritten, they can charge less because the policy holders are usually healthier.

COBRA is usually more expensive than individual health insurance plans.

COBRA is simply a group insurance plan.  COBRA is often twice as expensive as a similar individual or family health insurance plan.  It usually costs the consumer more than the same group insurance plan did when they were employed by their former company.  This is because COBRA is rarely subsidized by the former employer.

Insurance companies treat pre-existing conditions differently.

Being denied by one health insurance company for a pre-existing medical condition doesn’t not mean that one will be denied by all carriers.  Conditions like high blood pressure or depression can result in different underwriting decisions by different carriers.  One company might deny coverage.  A second company might accept an applicant but raise his or her rate.  A third company might accept the applicant, but eliminate outpatient coverage for the condition.  A fourth company may approve a policy with no rate increase.

An experienced insurance agent can help you apply with the right company.  Be sure to consult an agent before applying if you have any questions about your medical history. An agent can save you a lot of time and money by directing you towards the right plans.

Do your research or work with a good health insurance broker.  What you don’t know can hurt you or cost you more money.  Do your homework before you apply for coverage.

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9 years ago · by · Comments Off on Poor Quality Student Health Insurance

Poor Quality Student Health Insurance

Don’t be one of those parents who loses tens of thousands of dollars because think that their child’s student health insurance provides quality coverage.  Many student health insurance policies have severe limitations that can leave your child unprotected.

Student health insurance policies often have coverage limits that are much lower than other forms of health insurance.  A limit of one hundred thousand dollars or even one million dollars is low by today’s standards.  Quality policies will cover 3 million or more.  Some plans have no lifetime limits.

Private medical insurance policies from companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield and Humana often offer much better coverage than the plans targeted at students.

You have to ask yourself why one health insurance plan costs dramatically less than another.  Usually where there is a big difference in price, there is also a big difference in quality.

Student Insurance and Pre existing Conditions

If your child is insured by a typical student insurance policy at the time he or she develops a major sickness or has a big accident the coverage may end before the bills do.  Student insurance policies will typically have an age limit.  Should your child develop a condition while covered by one of these policies, he or she may be dropped by the plan due to age.  The preexisting condition might cause him or her to then be denied coverage by other insurance carriers.  Many private health insurance plans can be kept until the insured party is 65 and eligible for Medicare.

If you find that the student health insurance plans you are looking at have severe limitations, you may want to investigate private medical insurance plans that are not specifically targeted at students.

Buying Private Medical Insurance for Your Student

Finding the right health insurance for a student involves the same basic process that you would follow to find the right health insurance plan for an adult.  You will need to review the different options available for you and seek to find the best combination of benefits and favorable pricing.  Using a good health insurance broker who represents several carriers may make this process easier.

There are two issues to be concerned with if your child lives away from home.  You may have more health insurance plans to choose from.  You may need to approach the insurance plan’s network differently.

You may have more plans to choose from if your child lives out of state.  You will probably have the option of purchasing a health insurance plan that is approved for your state or one as one that is approved for your child’s state.  This can result in your paying a lower price for coverage.

If your student doesn’t live at home, you will also need to make sure that the healthcare plan you select gives your child access to good hospitals and doctors both near your home and near his or her school.  This may limit your choices.

Be sure that any health insurance plan you purchase for your family will cover you well.  Student health insurance plans should not be an exception to this guideline.  The plan offered through your child’s school may have limitations that can hamper your child’s health and your finances.  Do your homework!

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9 years ago · by · 5 comments

Universal healthcare vs Expensive so called Free Health Care

The belief that uninsured people already get free medical care is one of the arguments when people discuss the cons of universal healthcare in America.  I find it specious for two reasons.  The first reason is that if this is true, we are already paying for that medical care.  The second reason this is specious is that the care may cost more under this system because emergency care is better covered than preventative care.

If a doctor or hospital gives care to someone who doesn’t have private medical insurance and can’t pay their bill, the provider will be forced to add a little bit to the bills of their paying patients.  You and I are paying for that care in extra premiums to our health insurance companies and/or in extra dollars that we pay to our healthcare providers.  Shifting these costs to our taxes may not mean that we necessarily pay more; we may just pay differently.  This could mean that although it is probably not true that universal healthcare will not create higher taxes it may be true that it won’t cost us more overall.

There is no way around this.  This is true for supermarkets as it regards shoplifting.  This is true with companies in all industries that have outstanding accounts receivable. So this fact of business life isn’t  just for Californians without health insurance or Arkansas who don’t have Arkansas group insurance the costs of those who don’t pay is always transferred to those who do pay.  Does it matter that we currently pay this extra money in insurance premiums as opposed to extra tax dollars?

Free expensive emergency health care – limited cheap preventative care

The current system is biased towards providing emergency care for the uninsured and against providing cheaper preventative care.

Hospitals that want to get Medicare dollars are mandated to accept people in emergency situations whether or not they can pay for their care.  They don’t have to accept people who have chronic conditions that are all but destined to get worse.

This means that they don’t have to accept the person with high blood pressure and help him prevent a costly heart attack. This heart attack may keep that person from being a productive member of our society.  However they do have to help him when his wife drives him to the hospital after his heart attack.  Which do you think costs you and me more?

Another issue regarding this so called free care in the hospital is that the patient will be billed.  Their wages my be garnished and their credit may be ruinde. The uninsured patient may own a house and have that house taken away from him.  This may cause major disruptions in that person’s life and the life of his or her family.  It may cost the community as well.  The loss of credit and/or assets may mean that a child doesn’t complete their education and isn’t able to be as productive a citizen or pay as much money in taxes as he or she would otherwise.

I’m one of few health insurance agents who likes the concept of universal healthcare.  However, as with almost everything, there are more ways to do it wrong than to do it right.  I do have strong concerns about how we might implement universal healthcare, but we may be a better country after we have a better healthcare system in place.

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9 years ago · by · Comments Off on How to Cancel a Health Insurance Policy

How to Cancel a Health Insurance Policy

The procedure for cancelling a medical insurance policy generally amounts to submitting a signed request with your policy number the date you want your policy cancelled and your name and address on it. However, you may need to cancel your policy by a certain date or with certain documentation in order to get a refund.

Most medical insurance companies will allow you to use a modified version of this health insurance sample cancellation letter.

The most important thing about cancelling an insurance policy is to make sure that you have another policy in place, or no longer have the need for the policy on the date of your insurance cancellation. You can accomplish this by applying for your new policy ahead of time. For example if you are looking to change from one MO medical insurance company to another, your Missouri individual health insurance application might request an effective date of June 1, 2009, but be submitted to the company on April 10, 2009. This should give the new insurance company enough time to make a decision about insuring you. You might get your approval notice sometime in late April and then you can notify your old insurance company that you no longer want them to cover you after the end of March.

Most if not all insurance companies will allow you to cancel your policy by fax. All will allow you to cancel by mail and a few will allow you to cancel by phone. Your company may have a form that you can use, but they should accept a handwritten or typed request. To find the fax number and the exact procedure recommended by your company, you should call their customer service number. However most companies will accept a modified version of the insurance cancellation letter samples you will find below.

An insurance policy cancellation letter should contain the following elements.

  • Your policy number
  • Your name
  • Your address
  • The date you want your coverage to end
  • Your phone number
  • Your signature
  • A request to cancel your policy

You may also need proof of coverage with another carrier if your requested cancellation date is in the past or is in the middle of a month.

Health Insurance Sample Cancellation Letter


Name:

Address:

City, State, zip:

Date:

Aetna Inc.

151 Farmington Avenue

Hartford, CT 06156

USA

To Whom It May Concern:

This regards policy number: [enter policy number].

Please cancel my policy as of: [enter date].

If you need additional information, please contact me or my broker.

My broker is [enter broker’s name]. My broker’s phone is: [enter phone number of broker].

My phone number is:

[enter phone number]

Sincerely,

Signature: [sign]


When cancelling a policy that hasn’t been approved yet, you are technically withdrawing your application and not cancelling your policy. When withdrawing your application, you should expect to get any money you have paid refunded to you. Insurance companies will not typically be able to give you an instant refund. You may not get your refund until several weeks or a month has passed.

Application withdrawal letter

Cancellation letter for insurance when the policy number hasn’t been issued yet


Name: [enter name]

Address: [enter address]

City, State, zip: [enter city state and zip]

Date: [enter date]

Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield

P. O. Box 1014

North Haven, CT 06473

To Whom It May Concern:

This regards the Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield policy I applied for on or about

[enter date] The application was for a policy to cover

[enter name]

Relationship [circle one] Self My Child

Please withdraw the application.

If you need additional information, please contact me or my broker.

My broker is [enter broker name] My broker’s phone number is : [enter phone number]

Sincerely,

Signature: [sign]

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9 years ago · by · Comments Off on Expensive Health Insurance Options

Expensive Health Insurance Options

It is costly to pay for something that you don’t need.  Often we make decisions about our health insurance or other insurances based on what we need at the time of purchase.  Our needs often will change and if we don’t revisit those decisions, we are stuck paying for something we don’t need.

Maternity insurance is probably the most expensive private health insurance option.  Of course it is expensive not to have coverage for the maternity ward and everything that goes with it if we do need it.  However, if you and your spouse have determined that you are not currently in the baby making business, paying $200 or more every month for something you are not going to use is a bad financial decision.

Couples who don’t review their needs will sometimes find themselves paying for maternity coverage when their youngest child is in high school and they have no plans or desire to change another diaper.

It is a good idea to review your all of your insurance policies at least every couple of years.  You can make similarly costly mistakes with other lines of coverage and the insurance company won’t give you a rebate for the time you were over insured.

Dental insurance may also be something that you can do without.  Dental insurance plans are often limited.  A plan might only pay for $500 or $1,000 of dental care per year as a maximum.  This means, that that amount of maximum benefit minus the cost of the insurance rider, is the most that you can lose by not having the coverage.  You may find that that the net amount of risk that you will incur by going without dental coverage is quite small.

You may also find that the lists of dentist on your dental plan keeps you from going to the dentist that you like.  If you pay out of pocket, this negative goes away.

Prescription coverage can also add to your costs and may or may not be necessary.  Unfortunately Americans are using more and more prescriptions and the costs for the drugs is going up all the time.  However, you can over pay for drug coverage.  Your HMO health insurance and perscription coverage may cost so much more than the cost of the HMO coverage without the drug rider, that you can do without it.  Again, look at the annual limit of coverage and the annual cost of that coverage.  Subtract the cost from the maximum benefit and determine if you can handle the net risk.

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9 years ago · by · Comments Off on 3 Expensive Insurance Mistakes

3 Expensive Insurance Mistakes

Putting yourself at undue risk while trying to reduce your health insurance, auto insurance, life insurance, maternity insurance or other insurance costs can really hurt your family in the long run.  There are wrong and costly ways to reduce your insurance costs.  There are also a right ways.

Dropping Your Insurance Coverage

If you can reduce the coverage instead of eliminating it, you will continue to provide your family with protection.

You can raise your deductible on your health, home owners or auto insurance.  You can increase the waiting period on your disability insurance or reduce the face amount on your life insurance.  In some instances you can make these changes without getting a new policy, in others, you will need to change to another policy.

One word or caution regarding reducing your coverage:  If your health status has changed for the worse since you purchased the original policy, you may wind up paying more for a policy with less coverage.  In this situation, you may not be able to lower your costs without eliminating the coverage all together.

Shopping Around With the Wrong Insurance Companies

Not all insurance companies are created equal.  In fact, some companies that offer products that compete with insurance companies aren’t insurance companies at all.

Be sure to check with the insurance department of your state to see if any company you are considering has is in good standing and has a reasonable amount of complaints against them.  No large insurance company that is without any complaints.  However, the number of complaints should be consistent and reasonable when compared to the size of the company and the number of people it serves.

Failing to Shop Around for Coverage

Many Insurance policies will change their rates on an annual basis.  This means that the company that offered you the best price last year may not be the company to be with this year.  Look at competing companies prices at least once every two years.  You may save a bundle without reducing the level of protection you provide your family.

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