If keeping your doctor and provider is critical to you, it’s important that you check now with the health insurance carriers in your area and your own doctors’ offices to get up-to-date network information. Carriers must update their provider directories at least monthly, and the directories must include information about which providers are accepting new patients, along with their specialty, location, and contact information. In addition, the directory must be easily available online without requiring the user to create an account or enter a policy number.
But on the other hand, people who do that may find themselves between a rock and a hard place if they do end up getting seriously injured or ill, as there are numerous drawbacks to the less-regulated plans. In particular, the ACA's essential health benefits don't have to be covered, which means there could be gaping holes in the coverage (things like prescription drugs, maternity care, mental health care, etc. might not be covered at all, depending on the plan).
Group health insurance in the United States has evolved during the 20th century. The idea of collective coverage first entered into public discussion during World War I and the Great Depression. Soldiers fighting in the First World War received coverage through the War Risk Insurance Act, which Congress later extended to cover servicemen’s dependents. In the 1920s, healthcare costs increased to the point that they exceeded most consumers’ ability to pay. The Great Depression exacerbated this problem dramatically, but resistance from the American Medical Association and the life insurance industry defeated several efforts to establish any form of a national health insurance system. This opposition would remain strong into the 21st century.
One caution for any of you looking for cheap coverage – make sure the drug coverage is adequate. My best friend’s 77 year old husband was recently diagnosed with stage IV thyroid cancer (after full thyroidectomy and iodine treatment 11 years ago!) and his drug plan (he’s Medicare) won’t cover Tier 4 drugs at all, which is the only thing his doctor can offer. So he’s making his final arrangements because he’s going to die. I don’t know if this drug was going to just buy him some time or put him in remission or what, it’s new as of early 2018, but it’s heartbreaking to think he has no choices (other than suicide) because they cannot afford treatment. This drug costs, get this, $16,000 a month!!! That’s not a typo.
There are fewer than 16 million people enrolled in individual market health insurance in the United States. That amounts to less than 5 percent of the U.S. population. So, although the vast majority of Americans get their health insurance either from an employer or from a government-run program (Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, the VA, etc.), the headlines that you're seeing don't tend to have anything to do with those plans. Instead, the headlines tend to refer to the individual market.
(US specific) Provided by an employer-sponsored self-funded ERISA plan. The company generally advertises that they have one of the big insurance companies. However, in an ERISA case, that insurance company "doesn't engage in the act of insurance", they just administer it. Therefore, ERISA plans are not subject to state laws. ERISA plans are governed by federal law under the jurisdiction of the US Department of Labor (USDOL). The specific benefits or coverage details are found in the Summary Plan Description (SPD). An appeal must go through the insurance company, then to the Employer's Plan Fiduciary. If still required, the Fiduciary's decision can be brought to the USDOL to review for ERISA compliance, and then file a lawsuit in federal court.
While federal officials say the intention is to provide more affordable coverage options, critics say the move — coupled with the recent elimination of a penalty for non-coverage starting in 2019 — could drive even more young and healthy consumers away from the ACA marketplace. Short-term plans come with limited coverage and are largely unavailable to people with health problems.
Thanks for the post. My wife and I have achieved FI and are exploring when we can retire (she is only working part time now). My biggest challenge is that I have a chronic leukemia that requires medication for life (fortunately I am in remission but still need to take medicine daily). What surprised me the most when searching for health plans on the exchanges, was the lack of hospitals and doctors in the plans. I live in Houston and none of the major hospitals in the medical center are in the market place plans. So if I quit my job I would loose access to the specialist that I have seen for almost 7 years now. I’ve thought of moving to a different state where the plans have access to specific local specialists (of course who knows if the plans in other states will eventually drop those doctors). But for now I feel a bit stuck in my job if I want to visit the doctor and have access to the medical facility that I am so familiar and comfortable with.
Coverage limits: Some health insurance policies only pay for health care up to a certain dollar amount. The insured person may be expected to pay any charges in excess of the health plan's maximum payment for a specific service. In addition, some insurance company schemes have annual or lifetime coverage maxima. In these cases, the health plan will stop payment when they reach the benefit maximum, and the policy-holder must pay all remaining costs.
The federal government still isn’t funding cost-sharing reductions (CSR), but insurers and state regulators figured out a workaround last fall, and its use will be even more widespread for 2019. The details are explained here, but the short story is that the cost of CSR is being added to silver plan premiums in most states, and the CSR benefits themselves continue to be available in every state.
For starters, the vast majority of the headlines you're seeing are for health insurance that people buy in the individual market. That can be in the health insurance exchange or outside the exchange (i.e., purchased directly from the health insurance company), but it does not include coverage that people get from an employer, nor does it include Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children's Health Insurance Program.
We would be willing to take on a significantly higher deductible in a catastrophic plan. Even $20 – $25k a year deductible in order to keep basic premiums low and pay for most things out of pocket. Depending on the landscape when we retire (whether subsidies still exist), we could COBRA until the end of that year and shop for a low premium plan for the following year. And like the good ole doc, we are beefing up our HSA accounts while we can to fill in gaps if we need to until becoming eligible for Medicare. Hoping to preserve them for later on though.
The Commonwealth Fund completed its thirteenth annual health policy survey in 2010. A study of the survey "found significant differences in access, cost burdens, and problems with health insurance that are associated with insurance design". Of the countries surveyed, the results indicated that people in the United States had more out-of-pocket expenses, more disputes with insurance companies than other countries, and more insurance payments denied; paperwork was also higher although Germany had similarly high levels of paperwork.