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Health Insurance

THE 2010 PATIENT PROTECTION and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, remains a political hot button for many people. A 2017 attempt to repeal Obamacare failed in Congress, though the tax penalty for not having coverage was eliminated with the passage of 2017’s tax law. Keep in mind that most folks are largely unaffected by Obamacare, because they receive health insurance through their employer or they’re covered by Medicare.

However you get coverage, you are likely noticing two trends. First, as health care costs rise, there’s a push to get individuals to pick up more of the tab. This is showing up in higher premiums, deductibles and co-pays, plus certain medical costs are no longer getting covered. Partly, this is about employers, the government and insurance companies shifting more of the expense to individuals. But there’s also an effort to get individuals to appreciate just how much health care costs, so they aren’t quite so quick to seek medical help.

Second, individuals are being offered more health insurance choices, so they’re compelled to consider how much coverage they want and whether they are willing to pay the associated price. Obamacare slots health plans into four categories, each with different levels of coverage and sometimes sharply different premiums. Those age 65 and up can choose from among ten Medigap plans that supplement the basic coverage offered by Medicare. Alternatively, seniors can skip original Medicare and a companion Medigap policy, and instead go for a Medicare Advantage plan.

Meanwhile, many larger employers now offer two or more health plans, so employees have to decide whether, say, they want to pay more so they can see any doctor they wish, or whether they prefer to save money by sticking with a limited group of physicians and seeking authorization for some medical services.

Next: Employer Health Plans

Previous: Step No. 2: Insurance

Blog: Doctor’s Orders

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