To use a machine analogy, health insurance is designed to cover repairs, maintenance, and any lost income while you’re “in the shop.” What are the major types of individual medical insurance policies?
There are many variations on affordable health insurance policies. The two most common are major medical and disability. Your medical insurance agent can share other, more specialized types of coverage.
Maybe. Many factors must be considered, such as: Do I plan to remain at my current job? Do I feel secure in my current job? What current benefits does my employer provide, and do I feel they are sufficient? Are there certain benefits that are not provided, or limited in a way that leaves a gap in my coverages? Are there members of my family who are not adequately covered, or are ineligible, for my group benefits?
Discuss these issues with your medical insurance agent and he or she can make a recommendation as to the best choices to assure your medical coverages are adequate for your needs.
This is the most common form of individual or group health insurance. It provides benefits for sickness or injury, regardless of whether the care is provided at a doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital. The types of sickness and injury covered are typically broad, although there are always limitations that should be discussed with your medical insurance agent prior to purchasing the coverage. Major medical policies normally have an annual deductible and a lifetime maximum amount of benefits that will be paid.
In a health policy, coinsurance represents the percentage of the medical bills the insured will be responsible to pay after the deductible is met. For example, if your policy is 80% coinsurance, then once the deductible is met, the insurance will pay 80% of covered medical bills and you pay 20%.
Typically there will also be a provision called a stop-loss, which is basically a maximum amount you will ever have to pay out of your own pocket for covered medical bills. For example, let’s say your policy states it is 80% coinsurance, with a $1,000 stop-loss. Once you’ve paid your deductible, your covered medical bills are $7,000. Here’s how that would work: First, the coinsurance provides the carrier will pay 80% of the $7,000 ($5,600) and you will pay 20% ($1,400). But, your stop-loss says your maximum payable for this claim is $1,000! So you only pay the $1,000, and the additional $400 comes from your insurance company. Notice this provision gets more valuable as the claim gets larger. No matter how large the final claim, or what percentage of coinsurance you’ve purchased, your stop-loss says your share of the covered expenses will never exceed $1,000.
Please note some polices refer to stop-loss as maximum out-of-pocket. And many polices include the amount of the deductible in determining when you hit your maximum, also a helpful provision.
In its simplest sense, it means you are unable to work. But it’s important you realize the definition of the term under a given disability income policy will be specified by that policy. The broader the definition of disability, the higher the cost and increased limits to the underwriting restrictions. For example, some policies will define disability to mean the inability to reasonably perform the duties of your occupation,while another will define it as the inability to reasonably perform the duties of any occupation.
How significant is this difference of a single word? To use an extreme example, if you were a highly trained surgeon, the first policy would pay you if you were sufficiently injured that you couldn’t perform surgery. The second would refuse to pay if you could perform any job even sweeping floors or answering phones. Despite the obvious loss of income when going from surgeon to receptionist, the policy definition of disability will determine whether you will receive benefits for specific policy. As you might guess, the second policy is likely to be great deal less expensive. Also, you can see your current occupation is the single most important factor in determining what type of disability policy and coverage options you will be eligible for.
This stands for Preferred Provider Organization. Basically, this is a network of health care providers who have agreed to provide certain services at agreed-upon costs for individuals whose coverage is a part of the network. (Some suggest it is best described as a discount-buying club for medical care.) You are free to use any medical provider within the network, and all will honor the agreed services and fees. If you choose to use a provider who is not an approved member of the network, your coverage may be diminished, your personal cost higher, or, in some cases, benefits for non-emergency services may be totally denied.
This stands for Health Maintenance Organization. Unlike a PPO network of independent care providers, HMOs are typically fixed facilities, and benefits are designed to cover services obtained at the HMOs facilities and supplied by HMO personnel. HMO coverage plans must specify how and under what circumstances services may be obtained from non-HMO providers, and this information is crucial to determining the value of the HMO under your particular circumstances.
By assembling a network of providers who agree to provide services at a discount (PPO) or by requiring you get all of your services from a specific provider, with an emphasis on preventative care (HMO), the hope is to provide you the best possible care at the lowest possible costs. A downside is such benefits and discounts require a great deal of control over your health care options by the PPO or HMO, and not all the limitations are popular or convenient. And whether these approaches are always successful is subject to ongoing debate, and results can vary greatly by where you live.
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