Supplement Health Insurance Policy- A Better Option

The cost of Health insurance is increasing day by day. Exceptional coverage that is carried by insurance companies is cut out by them as the price of medical care is growing. Coverage for particular health conditions or unexpected expenses is becoming harder for consumers to discover.

Because of deductibles & co-payments there are some gaps that your regular insurance policy might cover but there is an insurance policy called Supplemental health insurance which intends to cover up the gaps. Like lost income & daily living expenses are also covered by this policy, these additional expenses are not offered by your main assurance.

Individuals who are not able to accomplish the financial necessities that occur because of unpredictable medical costs find this Supplemental health insurance very beneficial for them & therefore the standard assurance doesn’t cover them. Self employed persons who get injured frequently & couldn’t afford to lose their salaries selects for it since they couldn’t spend such a big amount of bill at a single stretch. Unusual forms of this will be viable for each & every person. In the policy one ought to carefully choose this policy in order that all his necessities are covered.

Is it good to purchase supplemental health insurance & how much it should be purchased? The answer to this question connects the use of the risk management judgments & financial planning that are devised to your individual condition. Factors that have to be well thought-out are each person is diverse, amount of dependents, earnings level & healthiness. The most cautious financial plan could be spoiled by pitfalls & gaps that are carried by nearly all insurance policies & you must be familiar with all these.

You do not have had to apply for your companies services; they possibly will proffer supplemental insurance packages. Its policy could be removed with a different company.

You must consider all risk aspects before settling on to take out a supplemental health insurance policy. It would be a better bond, if you don’t consider your requirements, to attach to your standard plan.

You could take benefit of lots of supplemental health insurance plans that are available. You can finance them devoid of changing your current policy. The practice won’t take you much occasion; this is the best component of it. However, you must comprehend it well & put into practice it properly.

Get Smart About Your Health Insurance

Health insurance is a very common subject for people to discuss these days, especially since it does not look like there will be any government help any time soon for those who are looking for Florida health insurance or insurance in any other state. There are many people who are out of insurance across the United States, especially in Florida, a state that has been hit by a wave of unemployment.

Florida health insurance can be more affordable for individuals as well as families if you choose a company that provides health insurance benefits for both. By shopping around and comparing the rates of different insurance companies, you would be amazed at how much they can save when it comes to medical insurance for themselves or their families. As medical costs begin to skyrocket, it is important that people have health insurance in case something happens and they have to be hospitalized due to an accident or sudden illness. Most of the people who file bankruptcy today are filing because of out of control medical expenses that occurred when they did not have Florida health insurance.

If who are looking for Florida health insurance, you should take a look at what is being offered. You can go online to a site where you can receive quotes from several insurance companies that will underwrite your health insurance plan for you.

When comparing insurance plans, it is important that you compare the actual plans with one another by way of what type of coverage they offer and not just look at the premium costs. While the premium costs can vary greatly from one company to the next, so can the benefits. Some benefits can be eliminated for some people who are looking for Florida health insurance but having hospital coverage is essential for anyone who needs health insurance as this can be the most costly of any medical treatment.

Being without health insurance is risky for anyone as an accident can land you in the hospital, or a sudden illness for that matter. Not having Florida health insurance can mean tens of thousands of debt that will have to be paid off over a period of time. This can end up causing someone to end up in bankruptcy court, as mentioned earlier. It is important that those who do not have Florida health insurance plan ahead and make sure that this does not happen to them. By having cheap health insurance, it can end up saving you from having to declare bankruptcy to get out of your medical bills.

Health insurance is not as costly as you think. You can get a Florida health insurance policy that will provide you with basic insurance that you can use for medical visits and will also cover any hospital costs in case you should wind up in the hospital. You can choose cheap health insurance that will keep you covered just in case you have an accident and can end up saving you from financial ruin in case the unthinkable should occur and you are not covered by Florida health insurance.

Finding An Affordable Health Insurance Plan

Health Insurance is something every person should have in order to make sure they will receive good care in case of an illness or an accident. It is a good way to not burden your family with medical expenses. Finding a Health Insurance plan which is affordable and doesn’t become a burden to your monthly income is quite a task. Look for a plan that works in a lot of hospitals and make sure they are close by. Below are some of the features to look for in an affordable Health Insurance plan.

Features to look for

For the maximum benefit, choose an affordable Health Insurance plan that will reimburse the pre-hospitalization expenses in addition to the post hospitalization expenses. Hospitalization expenses that are reimbursed should include boarding, ICU charges, anesthesia, surgical and OT charges, etc. This will ensure that most of the expenses are taken care of. You will get the best care without having to worry about the expenses. If you have a certain number of claim free years according to the plan, you will be reimbursed for a general check up.

Additional features

Some insurance plans also take care of the emergency medical evacuation expenses, ambulance service and expenses for taking care of minor children. With a small increase in the premium, you can also get your affordable insurance to cover a certain number of critical illnesses. Having an affordable Health Insurance plan will make sure you, your spouses, children and parents get the best care. Some discounts are given where more than one person from the same family gets an insurance policy done from the same company.

Benefits

Affordable Health Insurance plans also give you benefits for every claim free year. You will also get tax deductions for every premium paid. Premium up to Rs.15, 000 is eligible for deductions for spouse and children and Rs.20000 for parents who are senior citizens. As the diseases that are already in existence and those that started within 30 days of making the insurance policy are not covered, it is best to get the insurance as soon as possible.

Small Business Health Insurance – The Best Policy Is A Great Agent

I have been a health insurance broker for over a decade and every day I read more and more “horror” stories that are posted on the Internet regarding health insurance companies not paying claims, refusing to cover specific illnesses and physicians not getting reimbursed for medical services. Unfortunately, insurance companies are driven by profits, not people (albeit they need people to make profits). If the insurance company can find a legal reason not to pay a claim, chances are they will find it, and you the consumer will suffer. However, what most people fail to realize is that there are very few “loopholes” in an insurance policy that give the insurance company an unfair advantage over the consumer. In fact, insurance companies go to great lengths to detail the limitations of their coverage by giving the policy holders 10-days (a 10-day free look period) to review their policy. Unfortunately, most people put their insurance cards in their wallet and place their policy in a drawer or filing cabinet during their 10-day free look and it usually isn’t until they receive a “denial” letter from the insurance company that they take their policy out to really read through it.

The majority of people, who buy their own health insurance, rely heavily on the insurance agent selling the policy to explain the plan’s coverage and benefits. This being the case, many individuals who purchase their own health insurance plan can tell you very little about their plan, other than, what they pay in premiums and how much they have to pay to satisfy their deductible.

For many consumers, purchasing a health insurance policy on their own can be an enormous undertaking. Purchasing a health insurance policy is not like buying a car, in that, the buyer knows that the engine and transmission are standard, and that power windows are optional. A health insurance plan is much more ambiguous, and it is often very difficult for the consumer to determine what type of coverage is standard and what other benefits are optional. In my opinion, this is the primary reason that most policy holders don’t realize that they do not have coverage for a specific medical treatment until they receive a large bill from the hospital stating that “benefits were denied.”

Sure, we all complain about insurance companies, but we do know that they serve a “necessary evil.” And, even though purchasing health insurance may be a frustrating, daunting and time consuming task, there are certain things that you can do as a consumer to ensure that you are purchasing the type of health insurance coverage you really need at a fair price.

Dealing with small business owners and the self-employed market, I have come to the realization that it is extremely difficult for people to distinguish between the type of health insurance coverage that they “want” and the benefits they really “need.” Recently, I have read various comments on different Blogs advocating health plans that offer 100% coverage (no deductible and no-coinsurance) and, although I agree that those types of plans have a great “curb appeal,” I can tell you from personal experience that these plans are not for everyone. Do 100% health plans offer the policy holder greater peace of mind? Probably. But is a 100% health insurance plan something that most consumers really need? Probably not! In my professional opinion, when you purchase a health insurance plan, you must achieve a balance between four important variables; wants, needs, risk and price. Just like you would do if you were purchasing options for a new car, you have to weigh all these variables before you spend your money. If you are healthy, take no medications and rarely go to the doctor, do you really need a 100% plan with a $5 co-payment for prescription drugs if it costs you $300 dollars more a month?

Is it worth $200 more a month to have a $250 deductible and a $20 brand name/$10 generic Rx co-pay versus an 80/20 plan with a $2,500 deductible that also offers a $20 brand name/$10generic co-pay after you pay a once a year $100 Rx deductible? Wouldn’t the 80/20 plan still offer you adequate coverage? Don’t you think it would be better to put that extra $200 ($2,400 per year) in your bank account, just in case you may have to pay your $2,500 deductible or buy a $12 Amoxicillin prescription? Isn’t it wiser to keep your hard-earned money rather than pay higher premiums to an insurance company?

Yes, there are many ways you can keep more of the money that you would normally give to an insurance company in the form of higher monthly premiums. For example, the federal government encourages consumers to purchase H.S.A. (Health Savings Account) qualified H.D.H.P.’s (High Deductible Health Plans) so they have more control over how their health care dollars are spent. Consumers who purchase an HSA Qualified H.D.H.P. can put extra money aside each year in an interest bearing account so they can use that money to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses. Even procedures that are not normally covered by insurance companies, like Lasik eye surgery, orthodontics, and alternative medicines become 100% tax deductible. If there are no claims that year the money that was deposited into the tax deferred H.S.A can be rolled over to the next year earning an even higher rate of interest. If there are no significant claims for several years (as is often the case) the insured ends up building a sizeable account that enjoys similar tax benefits as a traditional I.R.A. Most H.S.A. administrators now offer thousands of no load mutual funds to transfer your H.S.A. funds into so you can potentially earn an even higher rate of interest.

In my experience, I believe that individuals who purchase their health plan based on wants rather than needs feel the most defrauded or “ripped-off” by their insurance company and/or insurance agent. In fact, I hear almost identical comments from almost every business owner that I speak to. Comments, such as, “I have to run my business, I don’t have time to be sick! “I think I have gone to the doctor 2 times in the last 5 years” and “My insurance company keeps raising my rates and I don’t even use my insurance!” As a business owner myself, I can understand their frustration. So, is there a simple formula that everyone can follow to make health insurance buying easier? Yes! Become an INFORMED consumer.

Every time I contact a prospective client or call one of my client referrals, I ask a handful of specific questions that directly relate to the policy that particular individual currently has in their filing cabinet or dresser drawer. You know the policy that they bought to protect them from having to file bankruptcy due to medical debt. That policy they purchased to cover that $500,000 life-saving organ transplant or those 40 chemotherapy treatments that they may have to undergo if they are diagnosed with cancer.

So what do you think happens almost 100% of the time when I ask these individuals “BASIC” questions about their health insurance policy? They do not know the answers! The following is a list of 10 questions that I frequently ask a prospective health insurance client. Let’s see how many YOU can answer without looking at your policy.

1. What Insurance Company are you insured with and what is the name of your health insurance plan? (e.g. Blue Cross Blue Shield-“Basic Blue”)

2. What is your calendar year deductible and would you have to pay a separate deductible for each family member if everyone in your family became ill at the same time? (e.g. The majority of health plans have a per person yearly deductible, for example, $250, $500, $1,000, or $2,500. However, some plans will only require you to pay a 2 person maximum deductible each year, even if everyone in your family needed extensive medical care.)

3. What is your coinsurance percentage and what dollar amount (stop loss) it is based on? (e.g. A good plan with 80/20 coverage means you pay 20% of some dollar amount. This dollar amount is also known as a stop loss and can vary based on the type of policy you purchase. Stop losses can be as little as $5,000 or $10,000 or as much as $20,000 or there are some policies on the market that have NO stop loss dollar amount.)

4. What is your maximum out of pocket expense per year? (e.g. All deductibles plus all coinsurance percentages plus all applicable access fees or other fees)

5. What is the Lifetime maximum benefit the insurance company will pay if you become seriously ill and does your plan have any “per illness” maximums or caps? (e.g. Some plans may have a $5 million lifetime maximum, but may have a maximum benefit cap of $100,000 per illness. This means that you would have to develop many separate and unrelated life-threatening illnesses costing $100,000 or less to qualify for $5 million of lifetime coverage.)

6. Is your plan a schedule plan, in that it only pays a certain amount for a specific list of procedures? (e.g., Mega Life & Health & Midwest National Life, endorsed by the National Association of the Self-Employed, N.A.S.E. is known for endorsing schedule plans) 7. Does your plan have doctor co-pays and are you limited to a certain number of doctor co-pay visits per year? (e.g. Many plans have a limit of how many times you go to the doctor per year for a co-pay and, quite often the limit is 2-4 visits.)

8. Does your plan offer prescription drug coverage and if it does, do you pay a co-pay for your prescriptions or do you have to meet a separate drug deductible before you receive any benefits and/or do you just have a discount prescription card only? (e.g. Some plans offer you prescription benefits right away, other plans require that you pay a separate drug deductible before you can receive prescription medication for a co-pay. Today, many plans offer no co-pay options and only provide you with a discount prescription card that gives you a 10-20% discount on all prescription medications).

9. Does your plan have any reduction in benefits for organ transplants and if so, what is the maximum your plan will pay if you need an organ transplant? (e.g. Some plans only pay a $100,000 maximum benefit for organ transplants for a procedure that actually costs $350-$500K and this $100,000 maximum may also include reimbursement for expensive anti-rejection medications that must be taken after a transplant. If this is the case, you will often have to pay for all anti-rejection medications out of pocket).

10. Do you have to pay a separate deductible or “access fee” for each hospital admission or for each emergency room visit? (e.g. Some plans, like the Assurant Health’s “CoreMed” plan have a separate $750 hospital admission fee that you pay for the first 3 days you are in the hospital. This fee is in addition to your plan deductible. Also, many plans have benefit “caps” or “access fees” for out-patient services, such as, physical therapy, speech therapy, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, etc. Benefit “caps” could be as little as $500 for each out-patient treatment, leaving you a bill for the remaining balance. Access fees are additional fees that you pay per treatment. For example, for each outpatient chemotherapy treatment, you may be required to pay a $250 “access fee” per treatment. So for 40 chemotherapy treatments, you would have to pay 40 x $250 = $10,000. Again, these fees would be charged in addition to your plan deductible).

Now that you’ve read through the list of questions that I ask a prospective health insurance client, ask yourself how many questions you were able to answer. If you couldn’t answer all ten questions don’t be discouraged. That doesn’t mean that you are not a smart consumer. It may just mean that you dealt with a “bad” insurance agent. So how could you tell if you dealt with a “bad” insurance agent? Because a “great” insurance agent would have taken the time to help you really understand your insurance benefits. A “great” agent spends time asking YOU questions so s/he can understand your insurance needs. A “great” agent recommends health plans based on all four variables; wants, needs, risk and price. A “great” agent gives you enough information to weigh all of your options so you can make an informed purchasing decision. And lastly, a “great” agent looks out for YOUR best interest and NOT the best interest of the insurance company.

So how do you know if you have a “great” agent? Easy, if you were able to answer all 10 questions without looking at your health insurance policy, you have a “great” agent. If you were able to answer the majority of questions, you may have a “good” agent. However, if you were only able to answer a few questions, chances are you have a “bad” agent. Insurance agents are no different than any other professional. There are some insurance agents that really care about the clients they work with, and there are other agents that avoid answering questions and duck client phone calls when a message is left about unpaid claims or skyrocketing health insurance rates.

Remember, your health insurance purchase is just as important as purchasing a house or a car, if not more important. So don’t be afraid to ask your insurance agent a lot of questions to make sure that you understand what your health plan does and does not cover. If you don’t feel comfortable with the type of coverage that your agent suggests or if you think the price is too high, ask your agent if s/he can select a comparable plan so you can make a side by side comparison before you purchase. And, most importantly, read all of the “fine print” in your health plan brochure and when you receive your policy, take the time to read through your policy during your 10-day free look period.

If you can’t understand something, or aren’t quite sure what the asterisk (*) next to the benefit description really means in terms of your coverage, call your agent or contact the insurance company to ask for further clarification.

Furthermore, take the time to perform your own due diligence. For example, if you research MEGA Life and Health or the Midwest National Life insurance company, endorsed by the National Association for the Self Employed (NASE), you will find that there have been 14 class action lawsuits brought against these companies since 1995. So ask yourself, “Is this a company that I would trust to pay my health insurance claims?

Additionally, find out if your agent is a “captive” agent or an insurance “broker.” “Captive” agents can only offer ONE insurance company’s products.” Independent” agents or insurance “brokers” can offer you a variety of different insurance plans from many different insurance companies. A “captive” agent may recommend a health plan that doesn’t exactly meet your needs because that is the only plan s/he can sell. An “independent” agent or insurance “broker” can usually offer you a variety of different insurance products from many quality carriers and can often customize a plan to meet your specific insurance needs and budget.

Over the years, I have developed strong, trusting relationships with my clients because of my insurance expertise and the level of personal service that I provide. This is one of the primary reasons that I do not recommend buying health insurance on the Internet. In my opinion, there are too many variables that Internet insurance buyers do not often take into consideration. I am a firm believer that a health insurance purchase requires the level of expertise and personal attention that only an insurance professional can provide. And, since it does not cost a penny more to purchase your health insurance through an agent or broker, my advice would be to use eBay and Amazon for your less important purchases and to use a knowledgeable, ethical and reputable independent agent or broker for one of the most important purchases you will ever make….your health insurance policy.

Lastly, if you have any concerns about an insurance company, contact your state’s Department of Insurance BEFORE you buy your policy. Your state’s Department of Insurance can tell you if the insurance company is registered in your state and can also tell you if there have been any complaints against that company that have been filed by policy holders. If you suspect that your agent is trying to sell you a fraudulent insurance policy, (e.g. you have to become a member of a union to qualify for coverage) or isn’t being honest with you, your state’s Department of Insurance can also check to see if your agent is licensed and whether or not there has ever been any disciplinary action previously taken against that agent.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/526570

Health Savings Accounts – An American Innovation in Health Insurance

INTRODUCTON – The term “health insurance” is commonly used in the United States to describe any program that helps pay for medical expenses, whether through privately purchased insurance, social insurance or a non-insurance social welfare program funded by the government. Synonyms for this usage include “health coverage,” “health care coverage” and “health benefits” and “medical insurance.” In a more technical sense, the term is used to describe any form of insurance that provides protection against injury or illness.

In America, the health insurance industry has changed rapidly during the last few decades. In the 1970’s most people who had health insurance had indemnity insurance. Indemnity insurance is often called fee-forservice. It is the traditional health insurance in which the medical provider (usually a doctor or hospital) is paid a fee for each service provided to the patient covered under the policy. An important category associated with the indemnity plans is that of consumer driven health care (CDHC). Consumer-directed health plans allow individuals and families to have greater control over their health care, including when and how they access care, what types of care they receive and how much they spend on health care services.

These plans are however associated with higher deductibles that the insured have to pay from their pocket before they can claim insurance money. Consumer driven health care plans include Health Reimbursement Plans (HRAs), Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), high deductible health plans (HDHps), Archer Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs) and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). Of these, the Health Savings Accounts are the most recent and they have witnessed rapid growth during the last decade.

WHAT IS A HEALTH SAVINGS ACCOUNT?

A Health Savings Account (HSA) is a tax-advantaged medical savings account available to taxpayers in the United States. The funds contributed to the account are not subject to federal income tax at the time of deposit. These may be used to pay for qualified medical expenses at any time without federal tax liability.

Another feature is that the funds contributed to Health Savings Account roll over and accumulate year over year if not spent. These can be withdrawn by the employees at the time of retirement without any tax liabilities. Withdrawals for qualified expenses and interest earned are also not subject to federal income taxes. According to the U.S. Treasury Office, ‘A Health Savings Account is an alternative to traditional health insurance; it is a savings product that offers a different way for consumers to pay for their health care.

HSA’s enable you to pay for current health expenses and save for future qualified medical and retiree health expenses on a tax-free basis.’ Thus the Health Savings Account is an effort to increase the efficiency of the American health care system and to encourage people to be more responsible and prudent towards their health care needs. It falls in the category of consumer driven health care plans.

Origin of Health Savings Account

The Health Savings Account was established under the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act passed by the U.S. Congress in June 2003, by the Senate in July 2003 and signed by President Bush on December 8, 2003.

Eligibility –

The following individuals are eligible to open a Health Savings Account –

– Those who are covered by a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP).
– Those not covered by other health insurance plans.
– Those not enrolled in Medicare4.

Also there are no income limits on who may contribute to an HAS and there is no requirement of having earned income to contribute to an HAS. However HAS’s can’t be set up by those who are dependent on someone else’s tax return. Also HSA’s cannot be set up independently by children.

What is a High Deductible Health plan (HDHP)?

Enrollment in a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) is a necessary qualification for anyone wishing to open a Health Savings Account. In fact the HDHPs got a boost by the Medicare Modernization Act which introduced the HSAs. A High Deductible Health Plan is a health insurance plan which has a certain deductible threshold. This limit must be crossed before the insured person can claim insurance money. It does not cover first dollar medical expenses. So an individual has to himself pay the initial expenses that are called out-of-pocket costs.

In a number of HDHPs costs of immunization and preventive health care are excluded from the deductible which means that the individual is reimbursed for them. HDHPs can be taken both by individuals (self employed as well as employed) and employers. In 2008, HDHPs are being offered by insurance companies in America with deductibles ranging from a minimum of $1,100 for Self and $2,200 for Self and Family coverage. The maximum amount out-of-pocket limits for HDHPs is $5,600 for self and $11,200 for Self and Family enrollment. These deductible limits are called IRS limits as they are set by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). In HDHPs the relation between the deductibles and the premium paid by the insured is inversely propotional i.e. higher the deductible, lower the premium and vice versa. The major purported advantages of HDHPs are that they will a) lower health care costs by causing patients to be more cost-conscious, and b) make insurance premiums more affordable for the uninsured. The logic is that when the patients are fully covered (i.e. have health plans with low deductibles), they tend to be less health conscious and also less cost conscious when going for treatment.

Opening a Health Savings Account

An individual can sign up for HSAs with banks, credit unions, insurance companies and other approved companies. However not all insurance companies offer HSAqualified health insurance plans so it is important to use an insurance company that offers this type of qualified insurance plan. The employer may also set up a plan for the employees. However, the account is always owned by the individual. Direct online enrollment in HSA-qualified health insurance is available in all states except Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

Contributions to the Health Savings Account

Contributions to HSAs can be made by an individual who owns the account, by an employer or by any other person. When made by the employer, the contribution is not included in the income of the employee. When made by an employee, it is treated as exempted from federal tax. For 2008, the maximum amount that can be contributed (and deducted) to an HSA from all sources is:
$2,900 (self-only coverage)
$5,800 (family coverage)

These limits are set by the U.S. Congress through statutes and they are indexed annually for inflation. For individuals above 55 years of age, there is a special catch up provision that allows them to deposit additional $800 for 2008 and $900 for 2009. The actual maximum amount an individual can contribute also depends on the number of months he is covered by an HDHP (pro-rated basis) as of the first day of a month. For eg If you have family HDHP coverage from January 1,2008 until June 30, 2008, then cease having HDHP coverage, you are allowed an HSA contribution of 6/12 of $5,800, or $2,900 for 2008. If you have family HDHP coverage from January 1,2008 until June 30, 2008, and have self-only HDHP coverage from July 1, 2008 to December 31, 2008, you are allowed an HSA contribution of 6/12 x $5,800 plus 6/12 of $2,900, or $4,350 for 2008. If an individual opens an HDHP on the first day of a month, then he can contribute to HSA on the first day itself. However, if he/she opens an account on any other day than the first, then he can contribute to the HSA from the next month onwards. Contributions can be made as late as April 15 of the following year. Contributions to the HSA in excess of the contribution limits must be withdrawn by the individual or be subject to an excise tax. The individual must pay income tax on the excess withdrawn amount.

Contributions by the Employer

The employer can make contributions to the employee’s HAS account under a salary reduction plan known as Section 125 plan. It is also called a cafeteria plan. The contributions made under the cafeteria plan are made on a pre-tax basis i.e. they are excluded from the employee’s income. The employer must make the contribution on a comparable basis. Comparable contributions are contributions to all HSAs of an employer which are 1) the same amount or 2) the same percentage of the annual deductible. However, part time employees who work for less than 30 hours a week can be treated separately. The employer can also categorize employees into those who opt for self coverage only and those who opt for a family coverage. The employer can automatically make contributions to the HSAs on the behalf of the employee unless the employee specifically chooses not to have such contributions by the employer.

Withdrawals from the HSAs

The HSA is owned by the employee and he/she can make qualified expenses from it whenever required. He/She also decides how much to contribute to it, how much to withdraw for qualified expenses, which company will hold the account and what type of investments will be made to grow the account. Another feature is that the funds remain in the account and role over from year to year. There are no use it or lose it rules. The HSA participants do not have to obtain advance approval from their HSA trustee or their medical insurer to withdraw funds, and the funds are not subject to income taxation if made for ‘qualified medical expenses’. Qualified medical expenses include costs for services and items covered by the health plan but subject to cost sharing such as a deductible and coinsurance, or co-payments, as well as many other expenses not covered under medical plans, such as dental, vision and chiropractic care; durable medical equipment such as eyeglasses and hearing aids; and transportation expenses related to medical care. Nonprescription, over-the-counter medications are also eligible. However, qualified medical expense must be incurred on or after the HSA was established.

Tax free distributions can be taken from the HSA for the qualified medical expenses of the person covered by the HDHP, the spouse (even if not covered) of the individual and any dependent (even if not covered) of the individual.12 The HSA account can also be used to pay previous year’s qualified expenses subject to the condition that those expenses were incurred after the HSA was set up. The individual must preserve the receipts for expenses met from the HSA as they may be needed to prove that the withdrawals from the HSA were made for qualified medical expenses and not otherwise used. Also the individual may have to produce the receipts before the insurance company to prove that the deductible limit was met. If a withdrawal is made for unqualified medical expenses, then the amount withdrawn is considered taxable (it is added to the individuals income) and is also subject to an additional 10 percent penalty. Normally the money also cannot be used for paying medical insurance premiums. However, in certain circumstances, exceptions are allowed.

These are –

1) to pay for any health plan coverage while receiving federal or state unemployment benefits.
2) COBRA continuation coverage after leaving employment with a company that offers health insurance coverage.
3) Qualified long-term care insurance.
4) Medicare premiums and out-of-pocket expenses, including deductibles, co-pays, and coinsurance for: Part A (hospital and inpatient services), Part B (physician and outpatient services), Part C (Medicare HMO and PPO plans) and Part D (prescription drugs).

However, if an individual dies, becomes disabled or reaches the age of 65, then withdrawals from the Health Savings Account are considered exempted from income tax and additional 10 percent penalty irrespective of the purpose for which those withdrawals are made. There are different methods through which funds can be withdrawn from the HSAs. Some HSAs provide account holders with debit cards, some with cheques and some have options for a reimbursement process similar to medical insurance.

Growth of HSAs

Ever since the Health Savings Accounts came into being in January 2004, there has been a phenomenal growth in their numbers. From around 1 million enrollees in March 2005, the number has grown to 6.1 million enrollees in January 2008.14 This represents an increase of 1.6 million since January 2007, 2.9 million since January 2006 and 5.1 million since March 2005. This growth has been visible across all segments. However, the growth in large groups and small groups has been much higher than in the individual category. According to the projections made by the U.S. Treasury Department, the number of HSA policy holders will increase to 14 million by 2010. These 14 million policies will provide cover to 25 to 30 million U.S. citizens.

In the Individual Market, 1.5 million people were covered by HSA/HDHPs purchased as on January 2008. Based on the number of covered lives, 27 percent of newly purchased individual policies (defined as those purchased during the most recent full month or quarter) were enrolled in HSA/HDHP coverage. In the small group market, enrollment stood at 1.8 million as of January 2008. In this group 31 percent of all new enrollments were in the HSA/HDHP category. The large group category had the largest enrollment with 2.8 million enrollees as of January 2008. In this category, six percent of all new enrollments were in the HSA/HDHP category.

Benefits of HSAs

The proponents of HSAs envisage a number of benefits from them. First and foremost it is believed that as they have a high deductible threshold, the insured will be more health conscious. Also they will be more cost conscious. The high deductibles will encourage people to be more careful about their health and health care expenses and will make them shop for bargains and be more vigilant against excesses in the health care industry. This, it is believed, will reduce the growing cost of health care and increase the efficiency of the health care system in the United States. HSA-eligible plans typically provide enrollee decision support tools that include, to some extent, information on the cost of health care services and the quality of health care providers. Experts suggest that reliable information about the cost of particular health care services and the quality of specific health care providers would help enrollees become more actively engaged in making health care purchasing decisions. These tools may be provided by health insurance carriers to all health insurance plan enrollees, but are likely to be more important to enrollees of HSA-eligible plans who have a greater financial incentive to make informed decisions about the quality and costs of health care providers and services.

It is believed that lower premiums associated with HSAs/HDHPs will enable more people to enroll for medical insurance. This will mean that lower income groups who do not have access to medicare will be able to open HSAs. No doubt higher deductibles are associated with HSA eligible HDHPs, but it is estimated that tax savings under HSAs and lower premiums will make them less expensive than other insurance plans. The funds put in the HSA can be rolled over from year to year. There are no use it or lose it rules. This leads to a growth in savings of the account holder. The funds can be accumulated tax free for future medical expenses if the holder so desires. Also the savings in the HSA can be grown through investments.

The nature of such investments is decided by the insured. The earnings on savings in the HSA are also exempt from income tax. The holder can withdraw his savings in the HSA after turning 65 years old without paying any taxes or penalties. The account holder has complete control over his/her account. He/She is the owner of the account right from its inception. A person can withdraw money as and when required without any gatekeeper. Also the owner decides how much to put in his/her account, how much to spend and how much to save for the future. The HSAs are portable in nature. This means that if the holder changes his/her job, becomes unemployed or moves to another location, he/she can still retain the account.

Also if the account holder so desires he can transfer his Health Saving Account from one managing agency to another. Thus portability is an advantage of HSAs. Another advantage is that most HSA plans provide first-dollar coverage for preventive care. This is true of virtually all HSA plans offered by large employers and over 95% of the plans offered by small employers. It was also true of over half (59%) of the plans which were purchased by individuals.

All of the plans offering first-dollar preventive care benefits included annual physicals, immunizations, well-baby and wellchild care, mammograms and Pap tests; 90% included prostate cancer screenings and 80% included colon cancer screenings. Some analysts believe that HSAs are more beneficial for the young and healthy as they do not have to pay frequent out of pocket costs. On the other hand, they have to pay lower premiums for HDHPs which help them meet unforeseen contingencies.

Health Savings Accounts are also advantageous for the employers. The benefits of choosing a health Savings Account over a traditional health insurance plan can directly affect the bottom line of an employer’s benefit budget. For instance Health Savings Accounts are dependent on a high deductible insurance policy, which lowers the premiums of the employee’s plan. Also all contributions to the Health Savings Account are pre-tax, thus lowering the gross payroll and reducing the amount of taxes the employer must pay.

Criticism of HSAs

The opponents of Health Savings Accounts contend that they would do more harm than good to America’s health insurance system. Some consumer organizations, such as Consumers Union, and many medical organizations, such as the American Public Health Association, have rejected HSAs because, in their opinion, they benefit only healthy, younger people and make the health care system more expensive for everyone else. According to Stanford economist Victor Fuchs, “The main effect of putting more of it on the consumer is to reduce the social redistributive element of insurance.

Some others believe that HSAs remove healthy people from the insurance pool and it makes premiums rise for everyone left. HSAs encourage people to look out for themselves more and spread the risk around less. Another concern is that the money people save in HSAs will be inadequate. Some people believe that HSAs do not allow for enough savings to cover costs. Even the person who contributes the maximum and never takes any money out would not be able to cover health care costs in retirement if inflation continues in the health care industry.

Opponents of HSAs, also include distinguished figures like state Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi, who called them a “dangerous prescription” that will destabilize the health insurance marketplace and make things even worse for the uninsured. Another criticism is that they benefit the rich more than the poor. Those who earn more will be able to get bigger tax breaks than those who earn less. Critics point out that higher deductibles along with insurance premiums will take away a large share of the earnings of the low income groups. Also lower income groups will not benefit substantially from tax breaks as they are already paying little or no taxes. On the other hand tax breaks on savings in HSAs and on further income from those HSA savings will cost billions of dollars of tax money to the exchequer.

The Treasury Department has estimated HSAs would cost the government $156 billion over a decade. Critics say that this could rise substantially. Several surveys have been conducted regarding the efficacy of the HSAs and some have found that the account holders are not particularly satisfied with the HSA scheme and many are even ignorant about the working of the HSAs. One such survey conducted in 2007 of American employees by the human resources consulting firm Towers Perrin showed satisfaction with account based health plans (ABHPs) was low. People were not happy with them in general compared with people with more traditional health care. Respondants said they were not comfortable with the risk and did not understand how it works.

According to the Commonwealth Fund, early experience with HAS eligible high-deductible health plans reveals low satisfaction, high out of- pocket costs, and cost-related access problems. Another survey conducted with the Employee Benefits Research Institute found that people enrolled in HSA-eligible high-deductible health plans were much less satisfied with many aspects of their health care than adults in more comprehensive plans People in these plans allocate substantial amounts of income to their health care, especially those who have poorer health or lower incomes. The survey also found that adults in high-deductible health plans are far more likely to delay or avoid getting needed care, or to skip medications, because of the cost. Problems are particularly pronounced among those with poorer health or lower incomes.

Political leaders have also been vocal about their criticism of the HSAs. Congressman John Conyers, Jr. issued the following statement criticizing the HSAs “The President’s health care plan is not about covering the uninsured, making health insurance affordable, or even driving down the cost of health care. Its real purpose is to make it easier for businesses to dump their health insurance burden onto workers, give tax breaks to the wealthy, and boost the profits of banks and financial brokers. The health care policies concocted at the behest of special interests do nothing to help the average American. In many cases, they can make health care even more inaccessible.” In fact a report of the U.S. governments Accountability office, published on April 1, 2008 says that the rate of enrollment in the HSAs is greater for higher income individuals than for lower income ones.

A study titled “Health Savings Accounts and High Deductible Health Plans: Are They an Option for Low-Income Families? By Catherine Hoffman and Jennifer Tolbert which was sponsored by the Kaiser Family Foundation reported the following key findings regarding the HSAs:

a) Premiums for HSA-qualified health plans may be lower than for traditional insurance, but these plans shift more of the financial risk to individuals and families through higher deductibles.
b) Premiums and out-of-pocket costs for HSA-qualified health plans would consume a substantial portion of a low-income family’s budget.
c) Most low-income individuals and families do not face high enough tax liability to benefit in a significant way from tax deductions associated with HSAs.
d) People with chronic conditions, disabilities, and others with high cost medical needs may face even greater out-of-pocket costs under HSA-qualified health plans.
e) Cost-sharing reduces the use of health care, especially primary and preventive services, and low-income individuals and those who are sicker are particularly sensitive to cost-sharing increases.
f) Health savings accounts and high deductible plans are unlikely to substantially increase health insurance coverage among the uninsured.

Choosing a Health Plan

Despite the advantages offered by the HSA, it may not be suitable for everyone. While choosing an insurance plan, an individual must consider the following factors:

1. The premiums to be paid.
2. Coverage/benefits available under the scheme.
3. Various exclusions and limitations.
4. Portability.
5. Out-of-pocket costs like coinsurance, co-pays, and deductibles.
6. Access to doctors, hospitals, and other providers.
7. How much and sometimes how one pays for care.
8. Any existing health issue or physical disability.
9. Type of tax savings available.

The plan you choose should according to your requirements and financial ability.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/1863335

Gordhan talks healthcare

Having started out as a pharmacist, before embarking on a political career, finance minister, Pravin Gordhan says: “We have to find new ways of ensuring not only better access to medicines, but more effective ways of people accessing medicines, including chronic medicines without going through burdensome queues. There is much to be done to ensure that civil servants become real public servants.”
“Health is central to meeting the values and rights contained in our constitution. Each day we care for a South African better than we’ve done before, each day we are building the human rights of citizens in South Africa.”

Gordhan talks healthcare
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On issues of corruption in the healthcare system, achievement of social justice for South Africans and continued skills development, he says: “How do we ensure that the public finances are spent in the right way and is not pocketed in the wrong part of the value chain?”

“We need to be vocal about the corruption in the health system. Public servants and business people ‘swopping brown envelopes’ must be called out. Fiscal revenue can be increased if social justice is achieved. South Africans should be able to say we have a dignified existence.”

Gordhan also highlights the need for the industry to start anticipating the eventual introduction and rollout of the National Health Insurance (NHI). He encouraged health practitioners to view the NHI vision and the health industry in terms of the National Development Plan 2030.

He is positive that “over time as mature South Africans, we will find a way to resolve these issues.” Funds have already been allocated for the NHI vision and citizen engagement will happen on the financing model when it will be released for public comment. No date has been confirmed on the release.

Lack of advocacy undermines pharmacists’ role

Instead of presenting a united front, competition among pharmacists has led to poor advocacy within the profession and is a key contributor to the industry being short-shrifted when policies are formulated,
Sparkport Pharmacy director, Solly Suleman, blames the industry’s lack of cohesion and the inherent competitive spirit between individuals for enabling the government to institute professionally detrimental legislation, specifically for community pharmacies.

Lack of advocacy undermines pharmacists’ role
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No voice in policy decisions

He cites the 1997 pharmacy ownership legislation introduced by former health minister (now African Union chair), Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and the dispensing fee debacle that has left pharmacists at the mercy of the low fees paid by medical aid schemes as two examples of how poor advocacy has impacted on the industry.

The ownership legislation was intended to open up pharmacies in the rural areas, but Suleman says the government did not think through its implications and impact on the established community pharmacies in urban areas. However, as pharmacists had no voice, that impact could not be expressed or appreciated by legislators, and the industry has consequently suffered.

A single profession

“As a profession, we do not understand the importance of advocacy, specifically the activity by which an individual or group can influence decisions within the political, economic and social systems or institutions. Advocacy demands a united front to achieve its goals,” he says.

He believes successful activism could open new doors for pharmacists to use their extensive knowledge, but it requires a change of mindset and an understanding that advocacy participation is not a part-time occupation.

Consequently, pharmacists, regardless of where they worked in the industry – be it government, research, community pharmacies or pharmaceutical companies, have to acknowledge they belong to a single profession.

Community involvement

He calls on pharmacists to look for opportunities within their communities in which they could get involved. Options include outreach programmes, career guidance and discussions with local schools and getting involved with non-government organisations (NGOs).

Pharmacists also need to portray images beyond the stereotypical pestle and mortar in hand to educate stakeholders on their vast roles, particularly clinical involvement. If the only image involved pharmacists dispensing medicines, they only have themselves to blame for that being the role the public believed they fulfill.

Suleman says pharmacists could partner with colleagues to leverage volume-based discounts from suppliers and service providers, but that means putting aside perceptions of competition.

“A divided profession lacks the harmony and consistency to change practices,” he says.

Engaging with government

He adds that the government is the most important stakeholder with whom to interact via advocacy. The proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) initiative that will see medicines dispensed via churches and community centres potentially opened the way for untrained individuals to dispense medication.

Yet, Suleman says, this is what happens when the industry had no voice to raise those concerns.

“The profession is in dire straits and we need to work together for transparency. If every pharmacist is trained in advocacy, the industry will have the voice to influence decisions and decision-makers,” he concludes.

Africa’s growing middle class opens doors for health insurance industry

Africa’s economic growth levels have resulted in increased spending power. Figures indicate that Africa’s middle class has more than tripled over the past 30 years. This trend, which is set to continue in the foreseeable future, bodes well for the health insurance industry.
“With an average annual growth rate forecast of 6% for Africa’s 54 countries in 2035, the continent is alive with opportunity,” says Andrew Schwulst, CEO of health insurance provider, Liberty Health. “The growing presence of large corporates in Africa is a welcome boost for job creation and local economies. Economic growth directly translates into a growing workforce – this is good news for insurance companies.”

Africa’s growing middle class opens doors for health insurance industry
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The most recent Global Economic Prospects Report by the World Bank shows that 54 African economies collectively grew on average by 3,4% last year. Whilst this is lower than previous years, Africa’s average growth rate exceeds expansions recorded in the United States (1,9%), Europe’s Eurozone (0,4%), Australia (0,7%), or even the world (2,.4%). Top African performers last year, were Ethiopia (10,2%), Ivory Coast (8,4%), the Democratic Republic of Congo (8%), Rwanda (7,4%), and Tanzania (7,2%).

Apart from improved macroeconomic conditions, factors like increased urbanisation and reformed government policies are also boosting people’s spending power and spending habits. “Africa’s middle-class growth trajectory is evident in consumer spending habits, with increased focus on retail, telecommunications, financial services and healthcare,” says Schwulst.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects that the number of African’s entering the workplace will exceed that of the rest of the world combined. “The increased demand for goods and services is also attributed to the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises. Health insurance providers in Africa are yet to fully tap into the SME market.”

“One size does not fit all. Our innovative pan-African product suite provides a range of options to choose from. These enable our multi-national clients to offer their staff a consistent value proposition across the continent, whilst allowing for local nuances,” says Schwulst.

Health Insurance Plans

Get a free online insurance quote to compare rates from local insurance agencies and brokers in Wyoming. If you need to know where to get affordable health insurance in Wyoming visit Healthinsurancedesk . Purpose of buying a Wyoming health insurance may differ from person to person still the primary aim of Wyoming health insurance is securing medical protection for self and family members. You can use the following tips to select a Wyoming health insurance that suits you most.

Wisconsin Health Insurance Online, Medical Insurance, Wisconsin Health Insurance, Group Health Insurance, Individual Health Insurance, Affordable Health Insurance. Wisconsin Health insurance provides you protection for unforeseen medical expenses. With the help of Wisconsin health insurance you can even afford to obtain costly specialized medical services. You can use west virginia health insurance facility even for paying your regular medical services. It provides you comparatively high quality medical services, which otherwise you would not have been able to afford, of a coordinated west virginia health plan.

Instant quotes for Washington State Health Insurance plans. It keeps you free from financial worries during your sickness. Washington Health insurance provides you the financial assistance during sickness, means when y ou need the money most. It is more beneficial when your family is considerably larger and need medical treatment frequently. Washington Health insurance is most advisable to those who have number of dependents because you pay comparatively lesser premium which is surely worth paying when considered the expenses you would have to pay to your physician.
Money acquired through Health insurance is not subjected to income tax so you get the tax-free money. Another benefit you get is that you acquire the treatment at comparatively lower cost as WA medical health insurance agencies pay lower prices to health providers. If you were to obtain the same treatment at your own you might have to pay more amounts to doctors.

Risk plans of various states.

* Alabama Health Insurance Plan
* Alaska Comprehensive Health Insurance Association
* Arkansas Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan
* California Major Risk Medical Insurance Program
* Connecticut Health Reinsurance Association
* Cover Colorado
* Idaho Individual High Risk Reinsurance Pool
* Illinois Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan
* Indian Comprehensive health Association
* Health Insurance Plan of Iowa
* Kansas Health Insurance Association
* Kentucky Access
* Louisiana Health Plan
* Maryland Health Insurance Plan
* Minnesota Comprehensive Health Association
* Mississippi Comprehensive Health Insurance Risk Pool
* Missouri
* Nebraska
* Mew Hampshire
* New Mexico health insurance quote
* New Mexico medical insurance
* North Dakota
* Oregon Medical Insurance Pool
* South Dakota Risk Pool
* Tennessee’s Tenncare Program
* Texas Health Insurance Risk Pool
* Utah Comprehensive Health Insurance Pool
* Washington State Health Insurance Pool
* Wisconsin Health Insurance Risk Sharing Plan
* West Virginia Health Insurance Plan
* Wyoming Health Insurance Pool.

Apart from web sites of the various states you can collect more information about risk pool plans from following sources.

* Web site established by Institute of Health Care and Policy, of Georgetown University provides information regarding acquiring a health insurance plan coverage. The web side also provides state-wise information about various health plans implemented by those states. It also includes information on regulations laid down on individual insurance, group insurance and HMO Plans of all states of U.S.
* HIPPA Insurance Reform- Consumer Information: This web site provides you all information related to various state health insurance programs and all relevant aspects of the plan such as effect of incidents in your life on your plan.
* National Association of Insurance Commissioners: It is an organization consisting of insurance regulators from all states and territories of the U.S.
* Communicating for Agriculture & the self-employed: A special section of this web site contains information on high risk health insurance plans of various states. Web site also provides you details of telephone numbers and addresses where you should contact for securing the plan.

How To Choose Best Health Insurance In India

What are the typical advantages of best health insurance in India? Is it price or the coverage being offered by agents? What is the aspect of pre-hospitalization coverage benefit? Does a best health insurance plan stand conducive to your need perfectly?

Therefore, questions are aplenty and they usually haunt potential buyers when it comes to choosing best health insurance policy. Well, in the context of giving you assistance with regards to choosing best health insurance in India, the article talks about some salient tips and it would help you choose best plan to your needs.

How to choose best health insurance in India:

Due to deluge of health insurance policies offered by different health insurance companies have presented state of confusion to potential buyers to decide purchase of particular product. Among many things of key consideration whether or not the particular product is conducive to need is one of the greatest considerations. For this, as a buyer, you need to prioritize your needs.

A health insurance company typically pays heed to the following considerations if you buy a plan

Your age

Number of dependents in your family

Pre-existing disorder, if any

Type of plan single or family plan

These considerations are essential as most health insurance service providers in India treat them as eligibility criteria for a buyer, especially in view of the circumstances indicating most policy holders were deprived of availing policy coverage benefit’ owing to certain conditions not disclosed by the buyer at the time of buying.

As a customer, do not forget that you would require paying certain amount of money against the type of policy bought. For instance, family insurance policy would cover maximum of three members of your family, and that would involve incurring expensive sum of monthly or quarterly (as determined) premium payout.

However, as availing coverage benefit goes, this sort of health plan is very conducive given the free of cost hospitalization and a slew of ailments being covered under the policy.

The premium amount payable against the kind of policy purchased requires your fealty regarding constant payment as determined failure to which would invite cancellation of the plan by your insurance firm.

So, you need to choose a plan that best suits your needs in terms of budget and coverage benefit that you would like to avail.

You have to consider that timely payment of premium against your plan is mandatory for the survival of the policy as well as qualifying you to avail coverage benefits that it may entail.

However, as availing coverage benefit goes, this sort of health plan is very conducive given the free of cost hospitalization and a slew of ailments being covered under the policy.

The premium amount payable against the kind of policy purchased requires your fealty regarding constant payment as determined failure to which would invite cancellation of the plan by your insurance firm.

So, you need to choose a plan that best suits your needs in terms of budget and coverage benefit that you would like to avail.

You have to consider that timely payment of premium against your plan is mandatory for the survival of the policy as well as qualifying you to avail coverage benefits that it may entail.