Should I have private health insurance?
If you do not have health insurance you may be wondering if private insurance is the right option for you. The answer will depend on what you need. Private health insurance is offered as either individual or group policies. Most people use private insurance because they do not qualify for government funded health insurance.
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Everyone needs some type of medical coverage and private insurance companies can provide that. Your health insurance policy can provide protection during a medical crisis and give you peace of mind. The type of plan you choose is important; having the wrong insurance can be almost as bad as none at all. Make sure the policy you choose fits you and your family’s needs. There are important benefits and protections that private health insurance can provide for you and your family.
Benefits of Private Health Insurance
According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 50 million people did not have insurance in 2009 and that number has been steadily on the rise since. People without health insurance are more likely to delay seeking medical care when they get sick. Children without health insurance are also at higher risk for not receiving immunizations and wellness checkups.
The uninsured have a 15% higher mortality rate than people with some type of health insurance coverage. Uninsured people are also more likely to have lasting effects from illness because they wait too long to seek treatment.
If you are diagnosed with an illness when you do not have medical insurance you may not be able get insurance later.
Without health insurance the cost of medical care could be financially devastating. If you went to an emergency room as the result of an accident and ended up having to have surgery, with an average stay of four nights in the hospital you could face bills adding up to nearly $39,000.
If you do not have insurance or $50,000 in the bank this one accident could leave you bankrupt. CNN reports that nearly 60% of bankruptcy cases are the result of medical bills. The average amount of medical bills in these cases is between $17,943 and $26,971.
Private Insurance Coverage
Private health insurance policies will vary depending on the company and plan you choose but there is some basic coverage you want to look for. They must cover a multitude of preventive services under the Affordable Care Act. Private health insurance must cover preexisting conditions for anyone under the age of 19.
In 2014 the Affordable Care Act will make it so private health insurance companies cannot deny coverage for anyone with preexisting conditions. There will also be more preventive services that must be covered. Some services such as immunizations and well baby care must be provided with no copayment.
When you compare health insurance coverage make sure the policies include doctors’ office visits, hospital services, and mental health care. These services are essential basics. If you have special needs or concerns such as maternity care make sure it is also in the policy. Maternity care is not always part of comprehensive plans and must be purchased separately.
Finding Private Health Insurance
There are many ways you can find a private health insurance policy. Start by looking at policies that might already be available to you. See if your employer or any organizations you belong to offer a group policy. Group health insurance policies tend to have lower premiums but your coverage choices may be limited.
If you cannot find a group policy that suits your needs you can purchase an individual plan. These plans can be bought directly from a health insurance company by visiting their website. You can also use a health insurance agent who can help you navigate the options and find the best plan for you. Remember agents get paid a commission for selling a policy from the company they work for.
Brokers and independent comparison sites can help you compare policies from several different insurance companies. Comparison websites allow companies to participate on their site for a small fee or commission from policies sold. You just enter your basic information once and they provide a list of what is available to you.
Health insurance brokers, like agents, give you one on one interaction. They gather your information and discuss your needs to find the best policy. They can search any company available to sell policies in your state.
Generally you will pay a health insurance broker for their services but they may also receive a commission. Brokers are ethically bonded to serve the client and not sell unnecessary plans.
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