Health insurance is something that most people don’t think about very often and yet it is something that when comes foremost to mind when a loved one is sick. Health Insurance coverage varies across the world, even across the different states in the United States of America…
Health insurance is a very specific type of insurance. With this type of insurance the insurer pays the medical costs of the insured if the insured becomes sick due to covered causes, or due to accidents. The insurer may be a private organization or a government agency. Health Insurance can protect a family from financial devastation in case of serious illness.
Today, according to statistics from the US Census Bureau, many Americans, approximately 85%, have some form of health insurance. Many people, about 60%, are insured through their place of employment or through health insurance acquired personally. For about a quarter of the population, federal or state government agencies provide the insurance. These agencies may include Medicare and Medicaid as well as various state funded health insurance plans.
Today, health insurance costs are rising, which is a concern to many people. Because of ongoing advances in medical care and in technology, medical treatment is more expensive. These advances help people to live longer. Today there are more senior citizens than ever before – our population is aging. The elderly population is more frail and prone to illness thus requiring more medical care than a younger population that is healthier. This also causes an increase in the price of health insurance.
Health insurance costs are also rising due to personal health choices made by individuals. Poor eating habits, smoking, drug and alcohol abuse, a lack of exercise, obesity are some of these poor health choices. In addition, there are still rural areas where there is a lack of health professionals including doctors.
Today, health insurers offer discounts and incentives to people who love a healthy lifestyle. Often, a person will provide health information and a personal medical history when buying health insurance. This history may address questions such as smoking, weight, drug use, and disease history. The incentives offered by health insurance companies today may encourage individuals to quit smoking or make other positive changes in their lifestyle. Many times, heath insurers will not insure pre-existing medical conditions. The medical history provided will screen out such applicants.
Because of the concern over pre-existing medical conditions, there are now state and federal laws that help ensure that those individuals with pre-existing conditions can acquire or maintain health insurance, even if they need to change plans or providers. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law ensuring that all health insurance plans nationally have a common set of standards. In addition, states can also have laws regulating health plans including group health insurance and individual health insurance. This means that the laws regulating your health insurance protections may vary from state to state. Keep in mind, that even with these laws, access to health insurance may not be protected in all situations.
COBRA continuation coverage can help you if you leave of change your job. Under COBRA, you may be able to remain in your old group health plan for a certain length of time. This can assist you in those times when you are between jobs or waiting for a new health insurance plan to cover your pre-existing condition. Under COBRA, there are limits to what you will need to pay to continue your coverage.