The word affordable is tricky. Who decides what’s affordable? Many people feel that they have been paying more than they should have to for a long time. And the cost of coverage continues to rise with no real end in sight. Even if you’ve always had insurance through your employer, over time you’ve probably had more and more withheld from your paycheck to cover rising premium and healthcare costs.
Ongoing attempts to reform the healthcare system in the United States have brought about some change. One of the most recent, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), attempts not only to control costs but also to improve the quality and access to care. To understand these changes, and how they affect you and your health insurance coverage, it helps to start with the basics.
Health Insurance Basics and FAQs
The concept behind health insurance is fairly simple. You agree to pay an insurance company a certain amount of money on a regular basis (your premium) and the company pays some or all of your medical expenses. It’s when you apply the concept to the real world that it often becomes more complicated.
A big company such as Blue Cross and Blue Shield, for example, insures nearly 100 million people, each with his or her own unique circumstances. Consequently, to protect the rights of both the insurance companies and the people they insure, policies are written to account for all possible scenarios, often making them full of jargon and difficult to understand.
Click here for help with wading through the paperwork to find what you really need to know.
Your Options for Coverage
Most people in the United States get their health insurance through their employers. Others have insurance they purchased directly from an insurance company or from the health insurance marketplaces created as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Still other people don’t have health insurance at all. But, with few exceptions, as of March 31, 2014, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires that all Americans either have healthcare insurance or pay a penalty.
Click here to learn more about reviewing the coverage you already have, changing your coverage or getting coverage for the first time.
Shopping for Health Insurance
Whether you are thinking about changing your health insurance coverage or you are getting coverage for the first time, it’s a good idea to take some time to understand what’s available and what you can afford given your circumstances. As a consumer, it is up to you to protect yourself by knowing exactly what you are getting for your money.
Click here to for help with determining what is and isn’t covered by your plan, what to look for in new plans and how to compare one plan to another.
How to Afford Your Medications
Medications can be the biggest chunk of your healthcare costs. Plans vary in terms of how much they cover, but you may be able to reduce these costs. Click here to learn more.
Your Guide to the Affordable Care Act (ACA or “Obamacare”)
The Affordable Care Act (ACA or “Obamacare”), passed in 2010, brought about changes in the U.S. healthcare system that have probably affected your life in one way or another. Perhaps you have compared and bought health insurance in the health insurance marketplace, qualified for Medicaid for the first time, or have a son or daughter who is covered by your plan a little longer.
Click here to learn more about the ACA and how it may affect your health insurance coverage and quality of care.
Understanding health insurance and how it works is not easy, especially with all the changes brought about by the ACA. Don’t be embarrassed if you need some help figuring it out. It’s a lot like preparing your taxes. You don’t have to tackle it alone. Click here to find helpful resources both online and by telephone. For specific questions, see Health Insurance Basics and FAQs on this website.