With health care reform on the agenda of most Americans, it may seem like there are fewer options for choosing the top health insurance companies. There are in fact, more choices today than ever before. Thanks to changes in the law, there is a lot more competition in the industry. And that leads to better prices and more efficient services.
Some changes in the law affect how Medicare programs provide coverage. Those changes affect both the type of insurance coverage available and the premiums for those policies. For example, a policyholder who once qualified for a Medicare Advantage plan can no longer be accepted. Instead, all beneficiaries will need to participate in the traditional Medicare program. That has a significant impact on what kind of Medicare coverage an individual can get.
Another change that impacts both the types of plans available and the costs associated with them is the bill’s cut back of the original Medicaid program. That move, along with premium increases, will likely have the greatest impact on the medical insurance industry. For one thing, there are fewer people who are qualified to receive the program. Another is that the newly unemployed will find it nearly impossible to qualify for Medicaid as it is.
Now let’s look at the other side of the story. Not so long ago, you could sign up for Medicare and not have to worry about finding a health insurance provider. You would just enroll in the program. As an example, you wanted to join Medicare Part B. Then you had to apply for Medicaid, depending on whether or not you qualified for Medicaid as a working adult. Then you would sign up for a private plan provided by a private health insurance provider.
In those days, the cost of prescriptions and doctor visits did not deter people from signing up. Premiums did not even keep pace with inflation and health care inflation went above average. The result was that premiums and deductibles became significant expenses that many people simply could not afford. That’s when Medicare and Medicaid seemed like a better solution, as they offered health care insurance programs that paid for the costs of prescriptions and doctor visits, as well as copays and coinsurance for deductibles and regular doctor visits.
Unfortunately, things aren’t that simple today. Prescription drug costs are now out of control and premiums and deductibles are out of control. There is also a great deal of confusion about what’s covered by Medicare and what’s not covered by it. This makes choosing an adequate and affordable plan very difficult.
Fortunately, there are now a number of good alternatives to Medicare and Medicaid. They include the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which permit people to use their current doctor and general insurance company’s prescription drug plans if they don’t want to change their coverage. Another is the National Health Service Corps, which provides health benefits to people who are young and healthy who want to sign up for a temporary period of service while they’re waiting for a permanent policy from a general insurance company. A third option is to join a health savings program. These programs offer high deductible health plans that are flexible, but that have low monthly premiums.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and the National Health Service Corps are both examples of insurance plans that are not under the authority of Medicare or Medicaid. But even if you don’t fall into one of these categories, you should still consider switching to a more affordable plan. Among the leading name companies that offer individual and family coverage are Aetna, Delta, Assurant Health, Celgene, Cigna, Celtic, Cigna, Fortis, Golden Rule, Humana, Kaiser Permanente, and Unicare. No matter what type of insurance plan you’re looking for, it’s easy to find good coverage at an affordable price. Choosing the right provider will depend on whether you want managed care, prescription drug coverage, or both, and on whether you’re looking for an in-network provider or an out-of-network provider. If you’re looking for an in-network provider, you should be able to choose a policy from among the leading name companies; if you’re looking for an out-of-network provider, it will be more difficult to find one.