On September 23, 2010, several very important provisions of the Affordable Health Care Act, signed by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010, became effective. This Act is part of the healthcare reform agenda of the currently in-office Democrats. These provisions provide greater protection to the consumer by reigning in long practiced atrocities committed by greedy health insurance companies. The following is a list of what insurance companies can no longer do, followed by what consumers can now do.
Deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease.
Place lifetime limits or caps on benefits.
Cancel a health insurance policy without proving fraud.
Deny medical claims without providing the consumer with a chance to appeal the decision.
Consumers can now:
Receive free preventative services such as immunization shots and office visit check-ups.
Keep their children on their parents’ medical plan up to the age of 26 years old.
Select their own primary care, OB/Gyn and pediatrician without interference from the insurance company.
Use the nearest emergency room without being penalized by the insurer.
Furthermore, individual states can offer a Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan. These plans focus on people with pre-existing health conditions and who have not been able to be approved by any other insurer for any other reason but for their health condition; the person must be a U.S. citizen or national, and must not have been able to be approved for insurance for at least the prior 6 months. This plan covers a wide range of pre-existing health conditions, provides primary and specialty care, hospital benefits, and prescription drugs.
Unfortunately, the prohibitive part of the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan is its cost. For a family of four, the premium can be close to $1,000 per month, which is still beyond the means of most consumers.
Many citizens have suffered at the hands of the health insurance companies. Insurers have cancelled or completely revoked policies from the policy date of inception for inconsequential reasons.
For example, in the case of Denise and Stephen Wheeler versus Nationwide Insurance Company, Mr. and Mrs. Wheeler were approved for health insurance in December. In May 2006 Mrs. Wheeler was taken via ambulance to the hospital due to a perforated ulcer, which she was unaware existed. She endured five hours of surgery where the perforation was repaired. A short time after the surgery, her health insurance carrier requested additional health insurance information from her. According to court documents, Mrs. Wheeler had not disclosed an emergency room and Ob/Gyn visit that happened two months prior, but was caused by heavy menstrual bleeding. The insurer contended that they would not have approved the insurance had they had known of the condition with her menstrual cycle. The Wheelers were left with a $30,000 hospital and medical bill.
Another example is the case of Susan and Tony Seals versus HealthNet. In March of 2003, Mr. and Mrs. Seals applied for and were approved for health insurance through HealthNet effective April 1, 2003. Shortly thereafter, Mrs. Seals was informed that she was pregnant and gave birth to a daughter in October 2003. Mother and daughter had difficulties during the labor and delivery process where the baby had to be resuscitated immediately after birth and sustained brain damage. The Seals medical expenses came to $140,000. At this point, HealthNet decided to review their original application and determined that Mrs. Seals was two weeks off when she answered the question requesting the date of her last menstrual cycle.
The Seals brought suit against HealthNet, and won. They received $95,000 toward medical bills and $1,000,000 in a trust fund toward care of their daughter who will need constant care for the entirety of her life.
These are just two of the hundreds of policy cancellations, revocations, and lawsuits brought against the health insurance industry. They have had a choke hold on the American public long enough. Even after being fined millions of dollars in the recent past because of their underhanded practices, their practice continued.
Now, with the new portion of the Affordable Health Insurance Act finally in place, consumers can begin to feel more secure that their protection is first and foremost. By the year 2014, all of the portions of this Act will be in place, which will further protect the public from the greedy health insurers.
After speaking with various individuals within the medical professions, many oppose this Act. They claim that this will inhibit their treatments and care toward patients. But if you carefully read all portions of this Act, you will find that it protects the general public from underhandedness of health insurers and limits medical costs that can be charged by doctors. We, the consumers, can now be assured that we are no longer at the mercy of the giant health insurers.
Most people enjoy taking car trips to nearby getaways or flying to see entirely new vistas. And most vacations go smoothly, with only minor inconveniences. Because they don’t expect anything bad to happen on their vacations, most people travel without thinking about their health insurance.
But imagine becoming ill while visiting a foreign country. What if a family member breaks a leg while skiing? Or a fishing trip ends in a boating accident? It’s important to know whether existing health insurance would cover a medical emergency far from home.
Those who already have health insurance should review the contract, call the insurance agent who sold the policy, or contact the insurer’s customer service department to find out if benefits apply while traveling. Some major insurance carriers do provide access to medical care for their customers who are away from home, but restrictions and exclusions may apply. All travelers should carry copies of their insurance policy and member ID card with them, and find out if they should bring additional forms of identification. Also be sure to bring any special contact information for the insurance company’s out-of-town benefits program.
Get details on what services are covered while out of the home area, including hospital care, emergency room services, doctor’s office visits and prescription drugs. Something as simple as a prescription for an antibiotic could cost hundreds of dollars without valid insurance. In addition, many standard insurance policies do not cover the cost of transporting a person home after a medical emergency.
Those who are not currently insured or who do not have travel benefits should consider a travel health policy. There are four general policy types, ranging from basic to deluxe international policies.
Purchasing a travel policy on the internet has advantages and disadvantages. Information and convenience are the biggest benefits of online shopping. Customer service is less strong.
Many internet travel sites also sell travel health insurance policies. But insurance is not their main focus, so they may offer fewer choices of benefits or rates. Travelers who already have a relationship with a travel agent may wish to ask if the agency also sells travel health policies. Many licensed travel agents offer these policies, and because travel is their specialty, they can advise on what type of policy and what level of benefits are right for each client.
Customer service is the heart of a travel agent’s business. An agent can be a valuable source of personal help in a crisis. He or she will likely have industry contacts and experience in dealing with people and organizations in distant places. If a client forgets to bring important documents or contact information on a trip, the travel agent will have that information available and should have a toll-free phone number that clients can call for help.
Those who don’t have an existing relationship with a travel agent may want to check with one of their professional trade associations, such as the American Society of Travel Agents (asta.org) or the Institute of Certified Travel Agents (icta.com). Another industry website at TravelSense.org offers visitors a way to search for an agent with specialized credentials.
Some credit card companies offer health insurance as an addition to other services. For example, travelers who hold American Express business cards may be eligible for travel accident insurance and the company’s “global assist program” for international emergencies. A traveler who is planning to book a trip using a credit card should check with the company’s customer service to find out about these added services.
Hopefully, the very worst thing that happens on a vacation will be something as simple as a misplaced suitcase. And if so … a good travel insurance policy includes the baggage replacement benefit to cover it!
There are a number of choices available for small business group health insurance. Taking the time to do some research can make the process of finding a solid employees’ healthcare plan a lot easier.
It’s pretty pointless for a small business to purchase a pricey group health insurance plan, to then find out that half of the employees like their spouse’s health insurance just fine, thank you, and have no intention of switching plans. Determine what coverages and policy types are needed first. Surveying employees to find out what they’re looking for in a healthcare plan can help.
Check with the state department of insurance to ensure that a business health insurance company is properly licensed. Never, ever deal with any small business health insurance company that isn’t licensed, no matter how good the deal. It’s no deal if there’s a group health insurance claim.
Quickly find out how a business health insurance carrier stacks up by visiting www.ambest.com. The A.M. Best Company supplies ratings for insurance companies based upon financial strength and credit obligations. Moody’s, Ward’s and Standard & Poor’s offer even more information about employees’ healthcare plan companies.
Existing clients of a new insurance agent or small group health insurance company can attest to their quality of service. Other business owners can provide information about who they use for business health insurance companies and provide company contacts who can offer information about billing, claims and customer service. It’s worth the time to get referrals and more information before buying an employees’ healthcare plan.
Review small business group health insurance company websites. It only takes a minute to do, and provides a wealth of information about insurance providers. Find out if a small group health insurance is Web-enabled, allowing online payments and questions. Old press releases can tell the tale of how the small business group health insurance company reacted during Katrina and other natural disasters. Investor information, products insured and the claims and customer service sections of a business health insurance company website can provide further detail.
Sometimes, the best deal for small business group health coverage isn’t a good deal at all. Finding an employees’ healthcare plan depends upon more than just cost. Cost-savings should be married with a small business group health coverage plan known for its superior customer service.