OK, I guess it’s best to get health insurance. But how do I get it?

Option 1: Group Insurance

If you have a job working 40 hours a week and you’re on salary, you more than likely qualify for a comprehensive group insurance plan through your employer.  Or, if you are a member of a union, professional association, or other group, you may be able to get group coverage through that organization.

Depending on your employer or organization, you can choose among several plans, including both indemnity insurance (reimbursement for medical expenses, regardless of who provides the service) and managed care (contracts with health care providers and medical facilities to provide care for members at reduced costs). 

Dental and/or vision coverage aren’t always included, so shop around and compare (if you can) to find a plan that takes a head-to-toe approach to health care. You should also be aware that once you enroll in a health insurance plan, you usually cannot change to another plan until the next open season, usually set once a year.

As an employee benefit, group health insurance should be easy on your monthly pocketbook – your employer usually pays a portion or all of the premiums.

If you’re a member of an organization that offers group insurance, you will pay more out-of-pocket on premiums than an employee of a company, however, you may pay less for premiums than an individual would pay (see option 2).

Option 2: Individual Insurance

If your empower does not offer health insurance, or you’re a freelancer or business owner, you can purchase your own individual health insurance directly from an insurance company. Buying your own health insurance means you are responsible for paying the entire premium rather than sharing the cost with an employer. Shop around to find a plan that fits your needs at a reasonable price.

While it seems expensive to go this route, most self-employed workers are able to deduct their health insurance premiums from their Federal taxable income, providing them with an important tax saving.

Most States also offer similar tax preferences. If you are self-employed and buy individual health insurance, you should consult a tax advisor to find out if you are eligible for this deduction.

Insurance plans differ greatly from one company to another and, within an insurance company, from one plan or product to another. Some plans have multiple products (options) from which you can choose; read carefully through the “fine print” to be sure you understand the various choices.

Option 3: Government Programs

If you are a senior citizen, fought in a war, and/or earn less than the U.S. definition of the poverty line, you can get health insurance through government programs that operate at the national, State, and local levels. Examples include Medicare, Medicaid, and programs run by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense.


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I’m healthy. I exercise. I eat right. Why should I bother with health insurance?

Let’s say you’re driving from Pilates class while sipping on a protein smoothie when a Mack Truck suddenly flips over on the highway right in front of you, and there is no time to brake. This is a moment when health insurance comes in handy.

Accidents. Cancer. Diabetes. Mental illness.

You need health insurance because you cannot predict what your medical bills will be. Maybe this year you avoided the flu and had little reason to visit a doctor. Given that life is often “like a box of chocolates,” as Forrest Gump says, next year and every year that you get older can be full of health surprises. It’s just not in your best interests to wait until you or a family member becomes seriously ill to try to purchase health insurance.

Emergencies aside, health insurance is also a tool for preventive care. You are more likely to get your annual pap smear or blood work analysis if you have health insurance. Yeah, it can be a drag, but advances in medical technology are making such doctor visits quicker.

According to Marketwatch, people with health insurance are more likely to have a regular doctor and to get care when they need it.

Faster and more efficient usually means more expensive, again strengthening the case for having a good health insurance plan on your side.

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Employer-provided health insurance coverage

Businesses in Northern Kentucky are following trends from around the country when it comes to employer-provided health insurance coverage. Members of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce reported that they will start charging their employees more for health care as the costs for such insurance continue to rise. Human resources consulting firm Mercer found that health care costs in 2006 for business rose 6.1% which was a smaller increase than in previous years but is still causing hardships for companies.To keep costs down, more of the Northern Kentucky businesses are increasing deductibles and encouraging employees to participate in wellness programs. Many are also covering less of the bill for family health insurance. Some of the businesses, like others around the country, have decided to try health savings accounts as a possible cost-cutting approach to the issue.

Small businesses are often the ones who feel the increase in health insurance costs the most. Most of the participants in the Northern Kentucky survey either had fewer than 10 employees or between 50 and 200.

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Retirement and Medicare

Retirement may not be such a rosy experience if you don’t plan ahead for your health insurance costs. Many Americans mistakenly believe Medicare will provide for their health needs after they turn 65, but that’s not the case.With Medicare, you’ll still be facing hefty premiums. For Medicare Part A (hospitalization), you could either end up paying no premium (if you worked for 10 years and paid into Medicare during that time) or between $226 and $410 per month if you didn’t. For Medicare Part B (doctor’s care), premiums cost $93.50 per month. On top of those premiums, you’ll have to meet deductibles, including $992 for hospital stays lasting up to 60 days and $131 for doctors’ visits. You’ll also have to pay extra for prescription drug coverage. Other medical care necessities, such as hearing aids, eyeglasses, and dental visits are not covered at all by Medicare.

Individuals who retire before turning 65 usually end up looking for their own private health insurance which can be quite pricey. Monthly premiums can easily cost between $300 and $600. To lower your premiums, you may need to sacrifice prescription drug coverage and be willing to contend with higher deductibles.  Read source Article

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Consumer health care

A recent study conducted by Families USA, a consumer health care advocacy organization, found that 195,000 South Dakota residents have gone uninsured for at least a month between 2006 and 2007. That’s 30% of the state’s population. While the state’s health insurance troubles aren’t as great as Texas where 47% of their population is uninsured, the group’s numbers also brought to another problem: gaps in health insurance coverage.Families USA argues that traditional methods of calculating the number of uninsured Americans is not accurate because the numbers only look at people who have had no coverage for an entire year but ignore those who went at least one month without some type of coverage. Using their revised calculations, more than 90 million Americans had been at least temporarily uninsured between 2006 and 2007. That number is up from 72.5 million between 1999 and 2000. Both figures are considerably than the 47 million uninsured figure currently being cited.

Of course neither figure takes into account the growing problem of the underinsured which is also becoming a major problem in South Dakota. High deducible or co-payment plans can stop people from being able to afford preventative care even when they have health insurance.

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Health savings accounts

The Bush Administration and others have touted health savings accounts (HSAs) as the answer to the growing problems of health insurance in the U. S. However, the Bell Policy Center in Denver, Colorado has determined that such accounts may benefit some but not the ones who need help the most.The HSAs work by allowing individuals to add tax-deductible contributions to an account. The money – sometimes combined with employer contributions – can then be used to pay for higher deductible policies which more affordable premiums and/or more coverage. So far most adopters of HSAs have been high-income individuals who already have health insurance. Lower income families and the uninsured are not attracted to the high deductibles and co-payments associated with the plans, plus many don’t have the extra income available to set aside in a health savings account.

Plus, the accounts have failed in bringing health insurance costs down as some predicted they would.

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Colorado residents individual health insurance

In 2006, the Senate Bill 208 Commission was formed to find ways of providing individual health insurance to the thousands of Colorado residents who are currently uninsured. While a number of options have been considered by the commission, several conservative politicians in the state have their own plans to introduce potential solutions.Republican Representative Cory Gardner wants to allow businesses to be able to unite with other businesses around the country in order to negotiate better plans with health insurance companies. For example, all car dealerships could work together to secure lower priced coverage. The businesses would not be required to do this, but they would have the option available.

Spencer Swalm, another Republican Representative, wants to propose a state-subsidized limited benefit program for the working poor where the insurance costs would be divided between employers and the state. Republican Senator Shawn Mitchell wants to allow Colorado’s citizens to look for health insurance outside Colorado in order to open up national competition.

Despite an abundance of options, any type of reform may end up the back burner. Colorado’s budget is already looking to be pretty tight and the costs for making changes to health insurance could be more than the state can afford.

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