Aurora Life and Health Insurance
To Be Insured Is To Be Assured
The Ins and Outs of Health Insurance, what you don't know could cost you.
1250 S. Buckley Rd. Aurora CO 80017

Why do you need health insurance?

As medical care advances and treatments increase, health care costs also increase. The purpose of health insurance is to help you pay for care. It protects you and your family financially in the event of an unexpected serious illness or injury that could be very expensive. In addition, you are more likely to get routine and preventive care if you have health insurance.

You need health insurance because you cannot predict what your medical bills will be. In some years, your costs may be low. In other years, you may have very high medical expenses. If you have health insurance, you will have peace of mind in knowing that you are protected from most of these costs. You should not wait until you or a family member becomes seriously ill to try to purchase health insurance.

We also know that there is a link between having health insurance and getting better health care. Research shows that people with health insurance are more likely to have a regular doctor and to get care when they need it.

Which type is right for you?

Whether you are eligible for group insurance or choosing an individual plan, you should carefully compare costs and coverage. Be sure to compare:

  1. Premiums.
  2. Coverage/benefits.
  3. Access to doctors, hospitals, and other providers.
  4. Access to after hours and emergency care.
  5. Out-of-pocket costs (coinsurance, copays, and deductibles).
  6. Exclusions and limitations.

Even if you do not get to choose your health plan—for example, if your employer offers only one plan-you still need to understand your coverage. What kind of services are covered by the plan? What steps do you need to take to get the care you and your family members need? When do you need prior approval to ensure coverage for care (for example, elective hospitalization for scheduled surgery)? How are benefits paid; do you have to submit a claim?

Make sure you understand how your plan works. Don't wait until you need emergency care to ask questions.

If you are choosing between indemnity and managed care plans, remember that they may differ in several important ways, including:

  • How you access services.
  • How you obtain specialty care.
  • How much and sometimes how you pay for care.

Despite these differences, indemnity and managed care plans share some features. For example, both types of plans cover a wide array of medical, surgical, and hospital services. Most plans offer some coverage for prescription drugs. Some plans also have at least partial coverage for dentists and other providers.

The major difference between indemnity (non-network based coverage) and managed care plans (network-based coverage) concerns choice of doctors, hospitals, and other providers; out-of-pocket costs for covered services; and how bills are paid.

Be sure to check on the physicians and hospitals that are included in the plan.

Remember, plans vary in what they pay. No plan will pay 100 percent of your medical expenses, but some plans will pay more than others.

Indemnity Insurance

This type of coverage offers more flexibility in choosing doctors and hospitals. Usually, you can choose any doctor you wish, and you can change doctors at any time. Although you usually will not need a referral to see a specialist or go for x-rays or tests, you may need paperwork, such as your medical records, from your primary care physician. Be sure to ask your doctor if there's any paperwork that you will need to take with you.

If you have indemnity insurance, your plan only pays part of your medical bills. You are responsible for the rest. Your out-of-pocket costs are likely to be higher for certain services than with some managed care plans. Usually, you will need to spend a certain amount each year before your plan begins to pay benefits. This amount is called a deductible.

Deductibles are the amount of the covered expenses you must pay each year before your plan starts to reimburse you. Deductibles might range from $100 to $300 per year per covered person or $500 or more per year for a family.

If you have an indemnity plan, you may have more paperwork to do. Some doctors will submit the claim for you. Once the doctor receives payment from the insurance company, he or she will bill you for the difference. With other doctors, you will have to pay the entire bill and file a claim with your insurance company to be reimbursed.

Indemnity insurance pays a portion of the bill—usually 80 percent— after the deductible has been met, although this may vary. You pay the remainder, usually 20 percent of the total bill. This is called coinsurance.

Indemnity policies typically have an out-of-pocket maximum. This means that once your expenses reach a certain amount in a given calendar year, the fee for covered benefits typically will be paid in full by your insurance plan. If your doctor bills you for more than the reasonable and customary charge, you possibly may have to pay a portion of the bill. If you have Medicare coverage, there are limits on how much a physician may charge you above the usual amount.

What if you have a pre-existing condition?

Before passage of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in 1997, people had to worry about health insurance coverage for preexisting conditions like diabetes, heart disease, or cancer. If you changed jobs and had to change insurers, you might not have been able to get some of your care covered because of the preexisting condition exclusion.

Today, HIPAA helps to assure continued coverage for employees and their dependents, regardless of preexisting conditions. Insurers can impose only a 12-month waiting period for any preexisting condition that has been diagnosed or treated within the preceding 6 months. As long as you have maintained continuous coverage without a break of more than 63 days, your prior health insurance coverage will be credited toward the preexisting condition exclusion period.

If you have had group health coverage for at least 1 year and you change jobs and health plans, your new plan can't impose another preexisting condition exclusion period. If you have never been covered by an employer's group plan and you start a new job that offers such a plan, you may be subject to a 12-month preexisting condition waiting period. Federal law also makes it easier for you to get individual insurance under certain situations. You may, however, have to pay a higher premium for individual insurance if you have a preexisting condition.

If you have not had coverage previously and you are unable to get insurance on your own, you should check with your State insurance commissioner to see if your State has a high-risk pool (described previously in this booklet). You can find the phone number for your State insurance commissioner in the blue pages of your local phone book.

Aurora Life and Health Insurance
1250 S. Buckley Rd.
Aurora CO 80017

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