Traveling Internationally? Get Your Health Insurance Together

September 30, 2008

 

When traveling abroad not only should you make sure that you have
had all the vaccines required for where you will be going, remember
to find out what kind of medical coverage you have when leaving the
country. Some insurance plans are only good in the country where
they were purchased, while others have some sort of coverage for
traveling abroad. It is possible to have a medical emergency while
traveling and you will need to have your medical information with
you at the time of service. Since January 1, 2006 it is now
required for all persons traveling in Europe to have a European
Health Insurance Card
(EHIC) to be able to receive medical
treatment while visiting an European Economic Area (EEA) or
Switzerland. So, make sure you find out if the country in which you
are traveling even accepts your insurance and if not what you will
need, such as an EHIC card or something else similar.

The EHIC is valid for three to five years. It covers any medical
treatment that becomes necessary during your trip, due to either
illness or an accident. This can be very handy especially when
traveling with the family. The card gives you and your family
access to state-provided medical treatment and you’ll be treated on
the same basis as an ‘insured’ person living in the country you’re
visiting. Depending on what country you are visiting, you might
have a co-pay or fee depending on the type of treatment. Each
country has its own uses for the card, so be sure to know the usage
and limitations of each country you are visiting. Flare-ups of
chronic diseases and pre-existing conditions is also covered under
EHIC, such as dyalisis or diabetes. Make sure you have all you
medical issues cleared up before traveling abroad to reduce the
risk of needing medical assistance. But having the protection in
case of an emegency is much better than getting stuck with a huge
bill.

EHIC will not cover you if getting medical treatment is the main
purpose of your trip. If you have scheduled a surgical procedure
abroad then you won’t be able to use EHIC and should have made the
arrangements with your private insurance to handle that. Make sure
when scheduling a medical procedure in another country your private
insurance is a form that is accepted. EHIC is for people who have
no known health issues or minor health problems. This will enable
them to be covered in cases of emergency or falling ill while
traveling. This keeps the individual from have to spend all their
money in medical treatment. You should take out comprehensive
private insurance as well for visits to all countries, regardless
of whether you are covered by your EHIC. For women traveling abroad
during pregnancy EHIC should cover any routine visit you might
need. They will also cover an emergency birth, but other paper work
might have to filled out at the time. If your sole purpose is to
give birth in another country you will not be able to use EHIC. You
will have to fill out other types of paper work that you can obtain
from the government of the country you are seeking to birth in.

Apply for the European Health Insurance Card if you:
Plan to go on holiday to another EU / EEA country or Switzerland
Regularly visit any of these countries on business, as a transport
worker or for leisure
Plan to go to any of these countries to look for work
Are being sent by your employer to work in any of these countries
temporarily
Intend to go to school in any of these countries Intend to visit
any of these countries for any other type of temporary stay where
healthcare in itself is not the aim of the visit

Having a European Health Insurance Card will allow you to get
reduced cost or free medical assistance while traveling in European
Economic Area
countries, and Switzerland. The European Economic Are
includes the European Union, including Iceland and also
Liechtenstein and Norway. Switzerland also participates but has a
slightly different policy than some of the other countries. Make
sure you know where you will be staying and what the policy is for
each country.

DISCLAIMER: This information is for educational and informational
purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for
professional advice. Always seek the advice of a licensed Insurance
Agent or Broker with any questions you may have regarding any
Insurance Matter.

Advertisements

Health Insurance and the College Student

September 25, 2008

 

If your child is on you or your spouse’s insurance plan, find out
what age your child’s coverage is terminated. Most plans stop
covering children once they turn 18, but many do cover your child
if they go to college or up to age 24. Depending on your plan, this
extension may be granted automatically or you may need to apply for
it, so make sure you know what to expect. If your child’s coverage
can be extended, you then need to make sure that is a physician
near the school that will accept the plan. This won’t be a problem
if your child is living at home or attending a local college, but
it could be a problem if he’s going away to school in another town
or state and living on campus or an apartment. This is especially
important to investigate if you’re in an HMO or PPO, which will
want your child to use one of its primary care physicians. You will
need to make sure that there is a doctor available in the town he
or she will be in. If one isn’t available, you’ll need to contact
the plan and talk to a representative about your alternatives. Your
plan may have a point-of-service option that allows your child to
visit a doctor who is not on the plan at a higher cost to you but
at least offers some coverage.

If an extension on your plan is not possible or college-aged
children are not covered, check to see if the college offers a
student plan. If it does, be sure to take a close look before your
child signs up, make sure everything they might need is covered at
a reasonable rate. Many of these plans are inexpensive and look
really good at first, but often the coverage is very limited and
the child is left to go with out some very important care or pay
out of pocket. If you need to start from scratch and end up having
to purchase insurance for your child, be sure to shop around. When
getting quotes, remember to state that the plan is for a student,
there may be special rates. With the major cost of schooling alone,
adding health care just ups the cost. If your child holds a job,
they might be eligible for health benefits through there, which can
decrease the cost of private insurance if they aren’t covered on
your plan. It is better to have a plan then be caught paying out
for an emergency.

Health insurance for college students is not an extravagance, young
and healthy as they may be. Active students have a high rate of
injury, and viruses can sweep quickly through college dorms.
Happily, the cost of student health insurance is very reasonable. A
college student away from home without health insurance can easily
spend more money on health care for an influenza outbreak or other
illness and a broken leg than the cost of a student health
insurance policy itself. A permanent, renewable individual medical
insurance plan that is designed specifically for college students
under the age of 30 can be easily obtained from most good insurance
companies. You can also keep renewing the plan when you are no
longer in college and keep it up to the age of 65 in some cases.
These plans are great and not overly expensive and a way to have
coverage that extends out of school and isn’t employer controlled.

The Student Select plan is a simple, affordable and easy plan to
obtain by parents and older students alike. You choose the plan
that best meets your child’s needs and budget and are covered from
receipt of first payment. Your child also has the freedom to choose
his or her own doctor or hospital and not have to follow a bunch of
strict guidelines as with some companies. If he or she decides to
transfer schools, their Student Health Insurance coverage moves
with them, so you don’t have to worry about them losing coverage.
This coverage will make sure your child gets everything they need
while attending college in the United States or Canada. Not just
during the school term either, but all year round. If for some
reason your child has to leave school, Student Select stays with
them for the remainder of the policy year and then it’s guaranteed
renewable. Where most college plans only cover a child until he or
she graduates or very shortly after, Student Select can be renewed
as long as it’s needed.

Visit our insurance information center for more information on
Health Insurance and the College Student

DISCLAIMER: This information is for educational and informational
purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for
professional advice. Always seek the advice of a licensed Insurance
Agent or Broker with any questions you may have regarding any
Insurance Matter.


High Deductibles – What is it the Right Option for You?

September 22, 2008

 

You should know that high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) are very
important role in the health benefits marketplace today. The
premiums are lower, which allows many employers, especially small
businesses, to provide health benefits to their employees they
might not otherwise be able to afford. HDHPs are one solution to
the growing problem of the uninsured people today. HDHPs help raise
consumer awareness of the real costs of health care, which is
having a positive impact on rising health care costs. Research has
also shown that people tend to take better care of them selves and
go to the doctor less if they have to pay more for it.

With health care costs continuing to rise at double-digit rates
each year, many employers have been forced to reduce benefits. They
shift more cost to employees or drop coverage entirely to save
money. Less than two-thirds of all employers now offer health
insurance to their employees do to the cost to the employer or not
having enough employees for it to be worth it. Employee
contributions to health care costs have increased 126 percent over
the last five years. HDHPs, with their lower premiums; offer
employers an affordable choice when offering health benefits to
their employees, with out it coming out of their pockets.

HDHPs give consumers a larger role in health-care decision-making
and create greater awareness of the rapidly increasing cost of
services and why taking care of your health is very important. With
the exception of many preventive care services, covered employees
must pay the deductible – a preset level of medical expenses –
before most medical expenses are covered by the plan. HDHPs are
often combined with an HSA or a health reimbursement arrangement
(HRA), which help plan members meet their deductibles. These plans
encourage greater cost awareness and responsibility to the insured,
and helps decision-making with the help of consumer information
tools. A recent study found that one out of four employers had
significantly increased either employee premiums or cost sharing at
the point of care in the previous year. The same study found
employers who engaged workers in health care decisions were
significantly more successful at controlling health care costs than
those employers who did less to encourage employee engagement. A
study as far back as the 1970s showed that participants in HDHPs
used 25-30 percent fewer services than those in a no cost plan and
take better care of their health needs.

Aren’t HDHPs really just a means of cost-shifting to save employers
and insurers money? No. Continually rising health care costs pose a
real danger to consumers and the health care system overall. As
costs rise, more employers abandon or reduce health coverage for
their employees, leaving more Americans uninsured. The proportion
of Americans under age 65 with employer health coverage fell from
67 percent in 2001 to 63 percent in 2003, resulting in almost 9
million fewer people with employer-based coverage. High-deductible
plans are more affordable than other types of coverage, allowing
many consumers to obtain or maintain coverage. HDHPs are not for
everyone, but they are an important option in a full range of
benefits offerings now available to the marketplace. It is also
important to remember that high-deductible coverage is typically
offered in conjunction with HSAs or HRAs that help consumers pay a
portion of their deductibles. These consumer-directed plans also
generally feature 100 percent coverage of preventive care and
access to information tools that help consumers navigate the health
care system
.

Do high-deductible plans prevent consumers from getting the care
they need? No. Consumers in HDHPs have the security of knowing they
have coverage for major medical events, and most consumer-directed
plans with a high deductible include 100 percent coverage of
preventive care. Independent research also shows that among people
enrolled in HDHPs who were typical of Americans covered by
employment-based insurance, variation in use of services appeared
to have minimal to no effect on health status. Certainly there are
times when consumers with high deductibles face tough decisions
about whether to access health care services. It is very important,
therefore, that consumers in HDHPs become fully informed about the
choices they face so that they can make the treatment decisions
that are right for them. Will high-deductible plans replace other
health benefits products? While HDHPs plans are an important health
care benefits
option, the marketplace continues to look for a full
complement of health products and services to effectively meet the
needs of today’s employers and consumers, to meet that demand.

DISCLAIMER: This information is for educational and informational
purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for
professional advice. Always seek the advice of a licensed Insurance
Agent or Broker with any questions you may have regarding any
Insurance Matter.


Sink you Teeth into Dental Options for your Health Insurance Plan

September 16, 2008

 

One’s general health includes dental health and care, as well.
Employers and other plan sponsors offer dental benefits for a
variety of reasons and most at really great prices. Offering a
dental benefits plan makes economic sense, it helps save money and
prevents other health related costs and expenditures. A frequently
overlooked reason for work related absences or poor work
performance is dental disease and/or discomfort. All those lost
days by employees is lost money for the company.

What do employers need to do about this? Quality dental benefits
plans can aid in the recruitment and retention of employees, it is
the hardest insurance to find sometimes. Dental is consistently
cited as one of the most sought after employee benefits and the
most inexpensive to both employee and employer to have. Most people
cannot afford regular check-ups, so they have more issues than
those with dental insurance who can be seen for routine cleanings
and check-ups. Most dental needs and treatments are predictable,
non-catastrophic, low cost and low risk, but expensive if you
aren’t covered. Dental disease is most often preventable; with the
exception of damage due to an accident. Treatment begins with
relatively low-cost diagnostic procedures, such as exams,
cleanings, and x-rays. If decay or disease is detected, the sooner
it is treated, the less expensive that treatment will be and the
person is less likely to have any advanced issues. The dental needs
of employees can be very much overlooked. Group policies can offer
most services to people for very little money per pay period and
save on a lot of time out of work.

There are some important things to consider before selecting or
changing a dental plan. Some plans require patients to choose a
dentist from a limited list of dentists, so check to see if your
dentist is on the list. If not make sure you get a recommendation
you’re your own dentist or close friend. Sometimes just telling
your dentist that your insurance is making you leave will prompt
them to add that type onto their list of accepted insurances.
Dental plans are typically business arrangements between an
insurance company and an employer, so see what can be done to have
your dentist added. Most plans are designed to pay only a portion
of your dental expenses, with preventive maintenance being the most
covered portion of the plan.

In addition, carefully read a plan and know its limitations, there
may be many services you need that aren’t covered at all or enough
to warrant investment. If a plan doesn’t cover a procedure that is
recommended by your dentist, this does not mean that the treatment
isn’t appropriate or needed; it just means they aren’t going to
pay. Some plans do not cover pre-existing dental conditions, such
as missing teeth, gingivitis, and other mouth diseases. Make sure
to see if your policy has these limitations. Even when you and your
dentist agree on the appropriate treatment method for your
condition, the contract provision of the dental plan may only pay a
portion, or pay only for the least expensive alternative treatment
as determined by the insurance company, so you could be forced into
a procedure that won’t be as good and useful to you as time goes
on.

DISCLAIMER: This information is for educational and informational
purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for
professional advice. Always seek the advice of a licensed Insurance
Agent or Broker with any questions you may have regarding any
Insurance Matter.


What ‘s Med Pay and Do You Really Need It?

September 13, 2008

 

Those drivers living in “no-fault” states are required, by law to
buy either Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or Medical Payments
(Med Pay) coverage. PIP and Med Pay cover the medical bills of you
and the passengers in your car after a crash that requires hospital
treatment or where there were injuries, regardless of who’s at
fault. If you have Med Pay as part of your auto insurance, you will
file a claim with the insurance company registered to your vehicle.
Filing a claim requires several steps and needs to be recorded so
all steps are covered and the people or person gets what they need.
You would first have to pay for your treatment up front. Get a
receipt from the doctor or hospital after the treatment is complete
and send the receipt to the insurance company. Wait for your
reimbursement check from the company and ask about how long to take
to get there. If you use Med Pay to cover medical expenses, tell
the doctor or hospital your auto insurance will pay for the
treatment so you won’t be billed directly. Also, have your
insurance information handy in case the hospital or doctor needs
it. If you have no such insurance you could end up paying out of
pocket for any medical needs to you or others as result of an
accident. It would be worth the extra money to have this than shell
out thousands of dollars you might not have.

Med Pay is designed for immediate and short-term care and is used
first as a form of payment for any accident. Once your Med Pay
limits are exceeded, your health insurance then kicks in and covers
the rest of the costs. As for your passengers, either their health
insurance
will kick in or your auto insurance will have to pay,
which may increase your monthly premium. This is standard primary
coverage for automobile accidents in no fault states. If you are in
a state that doesn’t have no fault insurance then Med Pay pays for
medical expenses first from your auto insurance company. Once the
Med Pay has been maximized out then you can resort to your medical
benefits to cover the rest. Med Pay usually has no deductible and
is useful to those who want to make sure medical pay is there in
the case of an accident. It can take time to get the at fault
driver’s insurance company to pay, so having a back up is good. If
you were the one at fault it is best to be able to get the other
people or person treated and not have to pay out of pocket.

Med Pay will normally cover the necessary expenses for surgical,
medical, dental, and possible chiropractic services. It also covers
hospitalization, X-rays, nursing services, ambulance ride,
prosthetic devices, and funeral services. In many situations,
having Med Pay is a smart way of coverage. There are certain
situations in which Med Pay can be valuable, such as when you are
driving with someone who’s not a family member. Med Pay covers
everyone in the vehicle at the time of the accident, so your
friends and others will have coverage, even if they don’t have
health insurance. Med Pay can help offset the deductible that comes
with your auto or health insurance. If you have health insurance or
belong to an HMO, you probably don’t need Med Pay, but see what
your policy will and won’t cover. But it might be a nice buffer
just in case your medical insurance gives you a hard time; you can
never be too prepared. Also, Med Pay is no substitute for broader
health insurance; few companies are willing to sell more than
$25,000 worth of Med Pay coverage. Make sure you know about all the
policies you have and pay for and what they cover and what they
don’t. This can be very useful later if you need it. There is
nothing worse than getting into an unfortunate accident and having
no clue what is covered and what isn’t. Once the accident has
occurred your insurance has lost money and will do anything to not
pay, know your rights and what their job is to provide to you. When
you are choosing insurance, it is always a wise idea to carefully
check into the plan so you know what it will and will not cover.
You will never know when you will need your policy, so you should
be prepared.

DISCLAIMER: This information is for educational and informational
purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for
professional advice. Always seek the advice of a licensed Insurance
Agent or Broker with any questions you may have regarding any
Insurance Matter.


Understanding COBRA Insurance – Not Many Do…

September 7, 2008

 

Don’t go into heart failure if you just lost your job. There is a
law that makes you eligible to keep your medical coverage while you
look for work. The federal COBRA law makes you eligible for
continual health coverage for those already covered on your
insurance. This is very important to make sure that people who are
just divorced or have had a death in the providing family member
have the bridge coverage they need. When either leaving a job or
being let go from it, you are eligible to keep receiving benefits
from your employers plan for 18 months by paying the premium
yourself, That amount would otherwise have been deducted from your
paycheck. The COBRA law is only for work related insurances,
personal plans are not covered. Anyone who was working and had
medical coverage at the time of being dismissed or leaving is by
law required to be offered the option to hold onto their benefits
at their own expense till the allotted time runs out of they have
new coverage, which ever comes first.

There are three groups of people eligible for COBRA coverage;
employees or former employees in private business, there spouses,
and dependent children. You may get COBRA coverage for the maximum
period determined by your status. You don’t have to take it at all
if you don’t need or want it. State and local government workers
are also eligible as well as classified and independent
contractors
. The only people who are exempt are federal employees
in Washington D.C., certain church-related persons, and firms with
less than 20 employees. But even in the cases where there are not
enough employees there could be eligibility. Some states have
mini-COBRA laws for small places to help out those types of
employees. The coverage will continue for all persons listed on the
original policy and any added dependents during the allotted time
frame.

To be eligible at all for COBRA you have to be covered under an
employer health plan. If you don’t already have medical benefits
you won’t qualify for this extended coverage. COBRA isn’t a health
care plan
of its own; it is only a law that protects workers from
losing all insurance when leaving their employer. All jobs will
send you the information you need to keep or deny this extended
coverage
. You may or may not be given pricing information and might
want to call the human resource department to find out or the
insurance company itself. Your COBRA coverage will end when you
reach the last day of maximum coverage, you stop paying the
premium, the employer stops providing coverage to employees or goes
out of business, or you get new coverage somewhere else, either
through work or privately. The plans that are eligible for extended
coverage on these types of medical coverage; medical plans, dental,
prescription, and vision plans, drug and alcohol treatment
programs
, and psychological treatment.

Paying for COBRA is a personal responsibility to the individual. If
you can’t afford it you might have to pass and not be covered. The
premiums can be very costly for people and even more than when the
person was employed. Employers get a fixed rate based on the number
of employees they have enrolled. The more employees they have
enrolled the cheaper the premiums for all employees. A person on
COBRA doesn’t qualify as an employee and will be seen as a private
insurer through the company. You will receive the exact same
benefits you had when you were working for your job. An employer
should advise you on all COBRA possibilities, and not just the
cheapest or most expensive. If you had more than one plan then you
have the right to elect continuing coverage in any or all of them.
If your former employer changes its health insurance plan for its
current employees, you are entitled to receive benefits under the
new plan as well, although the benefits you get may change. If your
employer switches plans, you won’t be able to keep the old plan,
you will have to choose to go to the new plan or drop coverage.

DISCLAIMER: This information is for educational and informational
purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for
professional advice. Always seek the advice of a licensed Insurance
Agent or Broker with any questions you may have regarding any
Insurance Matter.


Health Insurance Options for the Senior Set

September 3, 2008

 

Buying life insurance for elderly can be difficult. As you get
older, the companies that supply insurance don’t make any money off
of you unless they make the policies too high priced to achieve.
Obtaining senior life insurance at a good premium rate can be even
more challenging than the commercials lead you to believe. The fact
is, anything that increases your risk of death also serves to make
you more of a risk to insurance companies and reduces your chances
of getting cheap premium rates. However, with solid insurance
information, such as that provided by many companies that deal with
older people’s concerns, can get you a good plan at a great rate. A
willingness to try your chances of obtaining life insurance for the
elderly are much better if you are trying get coverage only for
long-term care and death expenses. Your lifestyle and health issues
can keep you from getting the coverage you need at the best prices.
But if you purchase at a good health state and with out any bad
health habits you can find that you are able to get great coverage
that can help ease the burden and save your checkbook in the long
run.

Traditionally, the need for life insurance has been thought to
decrease with advancing age. That is not the case now and many
companies are seeing a market in helping those of advancing age
decide on a policy that will serve them well in long-term care and
funeral arrangements as the time draws near. Many insurance
companies
, in the past, were reluctant to issue life insurance for
the elderly. Furthermore, many employer-sponsored life insurance
plans
contained provisions to reduce benefits for employees at a
certain age, usually 65. Today, this is often still the case but
not as bad as in the past. Generally, life insurance is considered
a replacement of income for your spouse and children if you die
during your working years. People of retirement age and older
usually do not have young children to provide for as their children
are usually self-supporting by this time. So the benefits are more
directed to the needs of the elderly as they finish out their
lives. They will pay for funeral arrangements and provide a
settlement to a widow or children left behind. Some can offer some
relief if one must go into a nursing home facility as well. The
market is starting to blossom as the baby bloomers get to a more
advanced age and the need grows.

While the need for life insurance may decrease with age for some,
there are many who would benefit from life insurance for the
elderly. People are living longer these days and often, elderly
individuals are called on to raise their grandchildren, long after
they have finished raising their own offspring. If you are
responsible for raising your grandchildren as a senior citizen, who
will provide for them when you’re gone? Social security and pension
benefits, if they are eligible to receive them, can fill in the
gaps for your spouse and dependents after your death, but will that
be enough? To determine whether or not you need to purchase senior
life insurance
and, if so, your chances to obtain it at a
reasonable rate, you need to look closely at your individual
situation. What works for another may not work for you, so you must
assess your personal situation and proceed accordingly. Life has
changed today and many policies that were once thought of as age
related are now being revised. Of course changing a policy you have
had for many years will always be the best bet, since it was bought
at ultimate age, health, and cost. But for those people who never
thought they would need it, there are still some great policies
available at a reasonable cost with great benefits.

No mater who or what policy you decide to go with, make sure it
best suits your needs. Also do your research and compare quotes and
policies to see who offers the most for the money. Every senior has
different needs and has to have all of the information laid out so
they can get the best policy for the best price for them. An
elderly couple with an adult handicapped child will need more
insurance than a single elderly person who is alone and has only
need for long-term and death benefits. There is a broad spectrum in
between that who needs to be catered to as well. So make sure you
know what your needs are before signing anything.

DISCLAIMER: This information is for educational and informational
purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for
professional advice. Always seek the advice of a licensed Insurance
Agent or Broker with any questions you may have regarding any
Insurance Matter.