Comparison of Health Insurance Schemes for Senior Citizens

It is absolutely vital that as one approaches old age, one has a substantial health insurance cover. The probability that one’s health care expenses would increase substantially is almost a given. In this piece we look and compare the different health insurance plans that are available in the market for senior citizens. While every health insurance company wants to insure the young (and almost by definition, more healthy), there are very few plans which provide health insurance to people beyond 60. Another interesting thing to note here is that most of the health insurance plans for senior citizens is offered by the public sector general insurance companies.

The health insurance plans available for senior citizens are:

Varistha Mediclaim by National Insurance
Senior Citizen plan by Oriental Insurance
Mediclaim for Senior Citizens by New India Assurance
Senior Citizen Plan by United India Insurance
Red Carpet Plan by Star Health Insurance

Varistha Mediclaim by National Insurance: This policy can be bought by anyone between 60 and 80 years of age. Renewals can be done upto the age of 90. Between the age bands of 76-80, premiums have an added factor of 10% and between 80 to 90 years of age, premiums are grossed up by 20%. The sum insured under this policy for hospitalization is Rs 1 lakh. For critical illness, the sum insured is Rs 2 lakhs. Under the critical illness cover, diseases such as cancer, renal failure, stroke, organ transplants etc are covered. If the person has already been insured for 3 years through a health insurance policy, then he or she does not have to undergo a medical test, else there has to be a medical test under the prospective customer’s costs. For domiciliary treatment, the maximum claim is fixed at 20% of the sum insured. Ambulance charges upto Rs 1000 are covered under this policy. For a mediclaim cover of Rs 1 lakh and a critical illness cover of Rs 2 lakhs, the premium varies between Rs 6200 (for a 60-65 year old) to Rs 9200 (for a 75-80 year old). One interesting feature of this policy is that pre existing hypertension and diabetes are covered from the 1st year itself of the policy by paying 10% additional premium for each of the two diseases. Pre existing is of course not available for the critical illness policy. Other pre existing diseases are covered after 1 policy year. Dialysis, chemotherapy and radiotherapy for preexisting ailment is never covered. Claims are paid only for events that occur within India. Claims which occur within the first 30 days of the commencement of the policy will not be covered, unless in the case of the person being insured with an Insurance Company without break for the past 12 months. For the purpose of this policy, pre existing diseases such as cataract, piles, fistula, hernia, benign lumps, joint replacement etc will not be covered in the first 12 months. War related medical claims, vaccination, spectacles cost, plastic surgery, corrective dental surgery, venereal disease, vitamins and tonics which are not part of the treatment, nuclear disaster related health claims, alternative treatment like homeopathy etc are excluded.

Opinion: We think it is one of the best policies for senior citizens, except that the sum insured is low. They are quite generous as far as the norms for entry age and pre existing diseases are concerned.

2. Senior Citizen Specified Disease Plan by Oriental Insurance: In this plan, the policyholder has the option to choose sum insured of Rs 1 lakh, 2 lakhs, 3 lakhs, 4 lakhs or 5 lakhs. One restrictive feature of this policy is that 20% of any claim amount has to be co-paid by the insured. Cashless payment through TPA is restricted to Rs 1 lakh. This plan covers 10 specified diseases: cancer, renal failure, heart diseases, liver related diseases, COPD (lung ailment), stroke, prostrate, orthopaedic disease, ophthalmic disease, accidental injury and knee replacement. The amount that one can claim for a particular disease is restricted as a percentage of the sum insured (for e.g., 50% of the sum insured can be claimed for cancer, while 20% of the sum insured can be claimed for stroke). A sum insured of Rs 1 lakh will cost Rs 4500 for a 65 year old, while it will cost Rs 6400 if one is eighty years old or beyond. While this may seem cheaper than National Insurance’s Varistha medical scheme, it is less wide in scope. This policy has an interesting refund of premium clause if one withdraws from the policy: if the policyholder gets out of the policy within the first month, 75% of the premium is returned and if he opts out between 3 to 6 months of the policy, 25% of the premium is returned. In this policy, pre-existing diseases are not covered for a period of 2 policy years. Other exclusions are very similar to those of National’s Varistha medical scheme.

Opinion: a good scheme in terms of the level of sum insured and price, but the scope of diseases covered is restrictive. Another issue is that pre-existing is covered only after 2 policy years.

Mediclaim for Senior Citizens by New India Assurance: This policy is available for senior citizens between 60 and 80 years, and the sum insured can be Rs 1 lakh or Rs 1.5 lakhs. Pre existing diseases are covered after 18 continuous months of coverage, while for diabetes and hypertension to be covered, additional premium needs to be paid. Pre hospitalization is covered for 30 days, while post hospitalization is covered for 60 days. An insurance of Rs 1 lakh for a 65 year old will cost Rs 3850 while it will cost Rs 5150 for an 80 year old. Thus, premiums are very competitively priced. If one wants to extend beyond 80 years, then loading of 10% or 20% has to be paid. For pre existing diabetes or hypertension, an additional premium of 10% each has to be paid. One interesting feature is that there is a 10% discount if one’s spouse is also covered under this policy. This policy also has the same partial refund norms on cancellation as Oriental’s Specified Disease Plan. Claims would be paid only for medical treatment in India. The exclusion conditions are standard, and are very similar to National’s Varistha Mediclaim.

Opinion: Attractively priced. Sum insured ceilings are low. The product brochure is silent on co-pay, and thus there is no co-pay requirement in all probability.

United India Insurance’s Specified Disease Plan: In this policy, sum insured of Rs 50,000 to Rs 300,000 is available to people between 60 to 80 years of age. Sum insured of Rs 1 lakh will cost Rs 3715 for a 65 year old, and Rs 8613 for an 80 year old. So while it is cheaper for the younger age bands, it is a bit expensive for the older age groups. An interesting feature of this policy is that there is a hospitalization cash payment from the 3rd day of hospitalization on payment of a particular additional premium. While other exclusion features of this policy are comparable to that of the previous 3 policies that we have discussed, the biggest problem of this policy is that this has a pre-existing waiting period of 4 years.

Opinion: Pre -existing waiting period of 4 years is restrictive

Star Health’s Red Carpet Plan: This plan has been a good marketing success. While one barely gets to hear about the reasonably broad, well priced schemes of the 4 nationalised companies, the market is quite excited about Star Health’s Red Carpet scheme. The sum insured under this policy can be for Rs 1 lakh, Rs 2 lakhs, Rs 3 lakhs, Rs 4 lakhs or Rs 5 lakhs. Age of entry is restricted between 60 and 69 years. Pre existing diseases are covered from the 1st year itself, except for those preexisting diseases for which the insured received payment in the preceding 12 months. Subsequently, these pre-existing diseases are covered. There are sub limits under this policy wherein different diseases have different limits as a percentage of the sum insured. Sum insured of Rs 1 lakh will cost Rs 4900 at entry, while a sum insured of Rs 5 lakhs will cost Rs 20000.. The biggest catch in this policy is that there is a 50% co-payment for pre existing diseases and 30% co-payment for other diseases!! Other exclusions are very similar to what is there for the nationalized companies.

Opinion: Simple, well marketed claim. But the co-payment terms are a huge negative! The ceiling for maximum age at entry is quite low (69 years), though the guaranteed renewal feature is a big positive. Also, the sum insured levels of Rs 5 lakh is quite high and attractive in these days of escalated medical costs.

In summary, we feel that National’s Varistha Plan is the widest in scope. The only issue with the plans of the Nationalised Insurance companies is that the sum insured levels offered might not be adequate for today’s high healthcare costs. On the other hand, they are at least offering senior citizen health plans. It is very difficult to locate any meaningful health insurance scheme for senior citizens offered by any private health insurance company, except Star Health. The only problem that we see with Star Health’s Red Carpet plan is that of the Co-pay restriction.

The Pros and Cons of Group Health Insurance

The health insurance marketplace is certainly challenging, but count your lucky stars that at least you have choices. To that end, this article is going to explore the pros and cons of group health insurance.

Group Health Insurance Pros

Group health premiums are subsidized by the employer. Generally, an employer must contribute at least 50% of the “employee only” premium. As such, if you are the employee, you can likely get a richer health plan for less premium than you would pay in the individual health marketplace. However, the cost to add your dependents to the employer’s plan, may be cost prohibitive. In this case, and assuming that your dependents can qualify, then you may want to put them on an individual health plan.
Group health premiums for large families are the same as for small families; whereas in the individual market, you pay a separate premium for every family member. So, if you have a large family, you may be able to get a better deal by adding them to your employer’s plan. As with any insurance change though, don’t make any changes without consulting with an experienced insurance advisor in your state.
Group health insurance in most states is guaranteed issue – meaning that you can’t be turned down because of pre-existing health conditions. This is a real blessing if you or a family member has a medical condition that prevents you from qualifying for a individual plan. But, this is a double-edged sword. While being guaranteed issue is a huge benefit for those with pre-existing medical conditions, it does come at a price. This one feature alone accounts for most of the disparity between group and individual insurance premiums. Yes, that is right – in most states, individual health premiums are almost always less expensive than group health premiums.
Most group plans cover maternity. So, if you are planning on having more children, you should definitely consider hopping on to a group plan. While you can add a “maternity rider” to individual plans, these riders tend to be expensive, restrictive, and otherwise provide less value than the coverage you can get in a group health plan. That being said, if you are considering having more children, we recommend that you contact a health insurance advisor in your state for advice about what is best for your family. The right answer is different for each unique family.
Economies of scale can benefit employees of large employers. It is true that the larger the group, the larger the risk pool is in which to share the risk which CAN result in lower premiums than are available in the individual health market. However, the guaranteed issue “issue” CAN wreak havoc on this type of plan. For example, a large employer with good benefits tends to retain employees for long periods of time. Eventually, the average age of the group starts to creep up and so do premiums. In addition, people with large medical needs (expensive medical conditions) tend to be attracted to large plans because they are guaranteed issue with good coverage. And so, over time, not only is the group’s average age increasing, but the group is also attracting employees with large expected health costs. This is the dilemma that we see with large health plans like the U.S. auto-makers and even government plans. Eventually, those with lots of medical needs begin to outnumber those with little or no needs and so premiums are driven higher and higher.

Group Health Insurance Cons

Group health insurance can be more expensive than individual health insurance. ln fact, if you don’t factor in the employer’s contribution towards premiums, then individual plans are almost always more affordable than group plans. However, as we discussed earlier, not every one can qualify for an individual plan.
What happens if your employment is terminated (by you or your employer)? Yes, you will likely have some benefit continuation rights (through COBRA or state continuation programs), but these benefits can be very expensive and the term limited. So, eventually, you either have to secure another job with benefits, an individual health plan (assuming you are insurable), or possibly join a government health insurance program for the uninsured (if you are not insurable). Let me emphasize, that you should NEVER be without some form of major medical health insurance. Being without this insurance puts you and your family in serious financial jeopardy. In fact, a recent Harvard University study found that 50 percent of all bankruptcy filings were partly the result of medical expenses.¹ To the same point, every 30 seconds in the United States, someone files for bankruptcy in the aftermath of a serious health problem. Don’t let this happen to you.
Group health insurance premiums are rising faster than individual health insurance premiums. Why? Because most group plans are guaranteed issue and since they accept “all comers”, they tend to attract those with high medical costs. On the other hand, most individual health insurance plans are medically underwritten. This means that the insurance company can say “no thanks” to any application that it deems to not be in its interest. Put yourself in their shoes – would sign a contract to provide $30,000 in annual benefits to someone that was only going to pay $3,000 in premiums (for a net loss of $27,000) if you didn’t have to? Hmm…let me me think about that one. The answer is a resounding “NO!”. Because of this underwriting process for individual health insurance, insurance companies can control their risk and more effectively manage their profitability, resulting in more stable prices.

As you can see, there is no clear cut answer as to which type of insurance is the best. The answer depends on a number of factors and is different for every unique situation. The best advice I can give you as you consider your health insurance options — get good advice from an experienced health insurance advisor.

All About Affordable Health Insurance Plans

While consumers search for affordable health insurance, they have price in their mind as the top priority. A general conception among the consumers is that cheap health plans should not be costly-the cheapest health plan available in the market is their target. However, this approach is not good. Sometimes, paying for a cheap health insurance plan but still not getting the required level of coverage results only in wastage of money.

With the implementation of the affordable care act, the reach of affordable health plans is set to increase. Or at least, this is what is believed to be the objective of healthcare reforms. However, lots of consumers are still in confusion about how things would work. In this article, we will discuss some detailed options that consumers can try while looking to buy affordable health plans.

To get a hand on affordable health insurance plans, consumers need to take of certain things. First among them is about knowing the options in the particular state of the residence. There are lots of state and federal government-run programs that could be suitable for consumers. Knowing the options is pretty important. Next would be to understand the terms and conditions of all the programs and check the eligibility criteria for each one of them. Further, consumers should know their rights after the implementation of healthcare reforms, and something within a few days, they may qualify for a particular program or could be allowed to avail a particular health insurance plan. If consumers take care of these steps, there is no reason why consumers can’t land on an affordable health plan that could cater to the medical care needs.

Let’s discuss some options related to affordable health insurance plans state-wise:

State-run affordable health insurance programs in California

While considering California, there are three affordable health insurance plans that are run by the state government. Consumers can surely get benefitted by these if they are eligible for the benefits.

• Major Risk Medical Insurance Program (MRMIP)

This program is a very handy one offering limited health benefits to California residents. If consumers are unable to purchase health plans due to a preexisting medical condition, they can see if they qualify for this program and get benefits.

• Healthy Families Program

Healthy Families Program offers Californians with low cost health, dental, and vision coverage. This is mainly geared to children whose parents earn too much to qualify for public assistance. This program is administered by MRMIP.

• Access for Infants and Mothers Program (AIM)

Access for Infants and Mothers Program provides prenatal and preventive care for pregnant women having low income in California. It is administered by a five-person board that has established a comprehensive benefits package that includes both inpatient and outpatient care for program enrollees.

Some facts about affordable health insurance in Florida

While talking about affordable health insurance options in Florida, consumers can think about below mentioned options:

• Floridians who lost employer’s group health insurance may qualify for COBRA continuation coverage in Florida. At the same time, Floridians, who lost group health insurance due to involuntary termination of employment occurring between September 1, 2008 and December 31, 2009 may qualify for a federal tax credit. This credit helps in paying COBRA or state continuation coverage premiums for up to nine months.

• Floridians who had been uninsured for 6 months may be eligible to buy a limited health benefit plan through Cover Florida.

• Florida Medicaid program can be tried by Floridians having low or modest household income. Through this program, pregnant women, families with children, medically needy, elderly, and disabled individuals may get help.

• Florida KidCare program can help the Floridian children under the age of 19 years and not eligible for Medicaid and currently uninsured or underinsured.

• A federal tax credit to help pay for new health coverage to Floridians who lost their health coverage but are receiving benefits from the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Program. This credit is called the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC). At the same time, Floridians who are retirees and are aged 55-65 and are receiving pension benefits from Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC), may qualify for the HCTC.

Some facts about affordable health insurance in Virginia

While talking about affordable health insurance options in Virginia, consumers need to consider their rights:

• Virginians who lost their employer’s group health insurance may apply for COBRA or state continuation coverage in Virginia.

• Virginians must note that they have the right to buy individual health plans from either Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield or CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield.

• Virginia Medicaid program helps Virginians having low or modest household income may qualify for free or subsidized health coverage. Through this program, pregnant women, families with children, and elderly and disabled individuals are helped.

• Family Access to Medical Insurance Security (FAMIS) helps Virginian children under the age of 18 years having no health insurance.

• In Virginia, the Every Woman’s Life Program offers free breast and cervical cancer screening. Through this program, if women are diagnosed with cancer, they may be eligible for treatment through the Virginia Medicaid Program.

Some facts about affordable health insurance in Texas

While talking about affordable health insurance options in Texas, consumers need to consider their rights:

• Texans who have group insurance in Texas cannot be denied or limited in terms of coverage, nor can be required to pay more, because of the health status. Further, Texans having group health insurance can’t have exclusion of pre-existing conditions.

• In Texas, insurers cannot drop Texans off coverage when they get sick. At the same time, Texans who lost their group health insurance but are HIPAA eligible may apply for COBRA or state continuation coverage in Texas.

• Texas Medicaid program helps Texans having low or modest household income may qualify for free or subsidized health coverage. Through this program, pregnant women, families with children, elderly and disabled individuals are helped. At the same time, if a woman is diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer, she may be eligible for medical care through Medicaid.

• The Texas Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) offers subsidized health coverage for certain uninsured children. Further children in Texas can stay in their parent’s health insurance policy as dependents till the age of 26 years. This clause has been implemented by the healthcare reforms.

• The Texas Breast and Cervical Cancer Control program offers free cancer screening for qualified residents. If a woman is diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer through this program, she may qualify for medical care through Medicaid.

Like this, consumers need to consider state-wise options when they search for affordable health coverage. It goes without saying that shopping around and getting oneself well-equipped with necessary information is pretty much important to make sure consumers have the right kind of health plans.

Health Insurance Buyer’s Guide

Buying Shopping for health insurance can leave many people confused. Knowing which insurance company to choose or which insurance plan is the best may seem daunting impossible. But once you know the basics of health insurance, choosing the right health insurance plan is simple easy.

This article will provide some of the most basic and helpful tools and explanations for health insurance shoppers. First, it is important to learn about helps to understand the different types of health insurance plans and their benefits and drawbacks. Plans differ in the amount you pay out-of-pocket, which doctors you can visit, and how the your insurance bills are paid. Besides just helping you choose the most efficient and cost-effective plan, we’ll teach you about another way you can save on health insurance: a Health Savings Account. Additionally, it is important to learn about dental insurance as well. Many health insurance plans do not include dental insurance under their benefits, so we’ll go over how to shop for and obtain separate dental coverage. Then it is important to learn about ways you can save on health insurance. There are several ways you can save including Health Savings Accounts and Discount Cards. LastlyAnd finally, don’t forget to compare plans before you make your decisionwe’ll explain why it’s so important to put your new knowledge to good use by comparing health insurance plans.

Types of Health Insurance Plans

Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) Plans

Generally, HMOs have low or even no deductible and the co-payments will be relatively comparatively low as well. You pay a monthly premium that gives you access to coverage for doctor appointments, hospital stays, emergency care, tests, x-rays and therapy. You will have to choose a primary care physician (PCP) within your insurance provider’s network of physicians, and in order to see a specialist you need to receive a referral from your PCP. Under an HMO plan, only visits to doctors and hospitals with the insurance company’s network of providers are covered; you’ll have to pay for visits if you go to an out-of-network doctors or hospitals your insurance will not cover the costs.

Preferred Provider Organization (PPO)

Plans Under a PPO plan, you will use the insurance company’s network of doctors and hospitals for any services or supplies you need. These healthcare providers have been contracted by the insurance company to provide services at a discounted rate. Generally, you will be able to choose doctors and specialists within this network without having to choose a primary care physician or get a referral. Before the insurance company will start paying for your medical bills you will usually need to pay an annual deductible. Also, you may have a co-payment for some services or be required to cover a percentage of the total medical bill.

Point of Service (POS) Plans

A POS plan is a combination of the features offered by HMO and PPO plans. You are required to choose a primary care physician, whose services are not usually subject to a deductible, but your PCP can refer you to out-of-network specialists whose services will be partially covered by your insurance company. Additionally, POS plans usually offer coverage for preventive healthcare, which includes regular checkups. Your PCP will be able to give you referrals for any specialists. If these specialists are out-of-network you will need to pay out-of-pocket and then apply for reimbursement from the insurance company. With a POS plan you will benefit from some of the savings of an HMO and will have greater flexibility in choosing healthcare providers, similar to PPO.

Dental Insurance

It is important to get a dental insurance plan along with your health insurance plan. In order to keep your teeth and gums health you need regular visits to the dentist. Without dental insurance, the cost of dentist appointments will be much higher making it difficult to keep up with the payments. Dental insurance is similar to health insurance in that each month you pay a premium, which entitles you to certain dental benefits. Benefits include checkups, cleanings, x-rays, and other dental services. There are plans that may cover dental implants, oral surgery and orthodontia, but they will be more expensive. Like health insurance, plans are categorized into indemnity and managed-care plans. If you choose an indemnity plan you will have a broader choice of dental care providers to choose from. You won’t have to choose one primary dentist and generally, you won’t need to acquire referrals. In order for the insurance company to cover your dental expenses you will need to send them a claim before they reimburse you for covered services. As a result, you will have to pay more out-of-pocket with an indemnity plan, but you will have more flexibility in choosing which dentists you visit. On the other hand, managed-care plans will provide you with a dental provider network and you will need to visit dentists within this network in order to get coverage for these services. With a dental care network, the insurance company has arranged pre-negotiated rates that you will receive when you visit these dentists. With a managed-care plan, the dentists will submit the claim for you, lowering your out-of-pocket expenses.

Save on Health Insurance

Health Savings Account

Health Savings Accounts (HSA) are tax-free savings accounts designed to help consumers pay for healthcare services while limiting premium expenses for unwanted benefits. The plans have lower premiums and higher deductibles than other insurance plans because they offer fewer benefits and require you to use the money in your HSA to pay for certain qualified medical services. However, if you don’t need to visit the doctor frequently and don’t anticipate requiring regular medical attention, HSA plans are a cost-effective method of insuring against the worst without paying for coverage you won’t use. In order to open an HSA, you’ll need to have an HSA-compatible health insurance plan. You may only use the funds in your HSA to pay for qualified medical expenses. Usually, your HSA plan will have a deductible that, once met, requires your insurance company to pay for any additional qualified medical expenses for the rest of the year.

Dental Insurance

Health insurance typically does not cover dental services, but in order to keep your teeth and gums healthy, you need regular visits to the dentist. Without dental insurance, regular dentist appointments can prohibitively expensive. Make sure your mouth is covered by shopping for both health and dental insurance. Dental insurance is similar to health insurance in that each month you pay a premium, which entitles you to certain dental benefits. Benefits include checkups, cleanings, x-rays, and other dental services. There are plans that may cover dental implants, oral surgery and orthodontia, but they will be more expensive. Like health insurance, plans are categorized into indemnity and managed-care plans. If you choose an indemnity plan you will have a broader choice of dental care providers to choose from. You won’t have to choose one primary dentist and generally, you won’t need to acquire referrals for special services. In order for the insurance company to cover your dental expenses you will need to send them a claim for reimbursement. You’ll end up paying more out-of-pocket with an indemnity plan, but you will have more flexibility in choosing which dentists you visit. By contrast, managed-care plans limit you to the doctors and services within a dental services network, and you will need to visit doctors within this network in order to get coverage for their services. Within the dental care network, your insurance company has arranged pre-negotiated rates that you will receive when you visit dentists in the network. Your dentist will submit your insurance claim for you, keeping your out-of-pocket expenses lower than with an indemnity plan.

Compare the Plans

Comparing insurance plans is an important step in buying health insurance. It will save you money in the long run if you take the time to compare premium prices, out-of-pocket costs, plan benefits, the network of physicians available with different plans, and the quality of insurance providers. If you have a favorite physician, make sure your health insurance covers visits to him or her. If you don’t need to see the doctor very often, don’t pay a high premium for low office visit copayments. Health insurance plans are designed to address specific healthcare needs, and you’ll save money and get the most effective coverage by comparing plans to find the health insurance plan that best fits your budget and lifestyle.

Why You May NOT Want to Use Your Health Insurance for Counseling

Why not use your health insurance for counseling? Isn’t that what it is for?

Perhaps.

But using health insurance for mental health services is a little different than other medical issues. Sometimes mental health issues are not covered by your health insurance. Once you use your health insurance for mental health, you will have a mental health diagnosis on file – a mental health disorder/mental health illness must be on the insurance claim in order for insurance to pay for treatment. This will be in your permanent medical record.

Of course you want to consider using your health insurance for counseling, but there are some good reasons for you to consider why you may not want to use your insurance for counseling services.

Why doesn’t my counselor accept my health insurance?

Many counselors choose not to accept health insurance for very good reasons. They want to focus 100% of their time in treating you. If they accept health insurance, there is a lot of extra work involved in accepting insurance, in addition to agreeing to work for a discounted fee. The counselor may spend hours on the phone getting benefit information, authorizations, or following up on claims payments. The counselor has to wait a month for payment from the insurance company. The counselor has to file progress reports with the insurance company. The counselor is required to submit treatment reports and other details about your medical history with the insurance company.

It’s not that counselors don’t like insurance companies, or don’t want you to use your insurance (we have health insurance too!), but many counselors prefer to focus 100% of their time and energy in helping clients, rather than doing paperwork for insurance companies.

But this isn’t the only reason counselors may not be in network with your health insurance company.

The other reasons are more compelling, and you need to consider them BEFORE you decide to use your health insurance.

Many counselors prefer not to work in network with health insurance companies so that they can better protect your confidentiality. Any information (claims, reports, or treatment plans) filed with health insurance leaves the protection of their office and their locked files and your personal, private, emotional information is outside of your counselor’s office. In order for any insurance company to reimburse or pay for counseling (both in network and out of network), you must be considered “ill”. You must be diagnosed with a mental health illness or disorder. If you are not ill enough to warrant a diagnosis, then insurance will not pay for counseling services. If you do qualify for a mental health diagnosis, your illness will be listed in your permanent medical record. Many counselors don’t like this “medical model” of declaring someone ill, so they choose not to accept insurance because they want to focus on their client’s strengths, and not label them as mentally ill.

Do you want to be considered mentally ill? If you have a mental health diagnosis already, because you have been to counseling or psychiatric appointments in the past, find out what your diagnosis on file is. If you already have a mental health diagnosis, this may not be a concern to you, but if not, you may not want this in your medical record.

Counselors also do not like releasing information to others to protect your confidentiality. Once a claim is submitted to the insurance company, who knows how many people take a look at it and rubber stamp it while it travels through the system? If insurance pays for any counseling sessions (in network or out of network), then the insurance company has the right to audit your complete file. They can request copies of counseling notes, assessments, and other personal emotional information to determine if you really are “sick enough” to warrant their payment. They can deny services to you if they think you aren’t sick enough or if they think your counseling is not “medically necessary”.

Additionally, there are many counseling issues that are not even covered by insurance at all. Stress management and anger management are usually not covered. Marriage counseling is usually not covered. Certain medical conditions/mental health conditions may be excluded (such as attention deficit disorder or adjustment disorder). Even if your illness or disorder is covered by your insurance plan, they may limit the number of visits they will cover (sometimes only 20 per year), and they will set a maximum amount they will pay per calendar year or in your lifetime.

Additionally, counselors prefer not to have someone in the insurance company telling them how to treat their clients. Insurance companies can decide what type of counseling is covered, what diagnoses are allowed, and how many times the client needs to come before they are cured. Many counselors prefer to work directly with clients to serve their needs, without interference from an insurance company.

Using your health insurance for counseling services can also affect your security clearance, life insurance rate, employment, or future health insurance coverage.

For the above reasons, I recommend that you be informed about using health insurance for counseling. You may choose to file anyway, but be an informed consumer.

Be an informed consumer.
Know your mental health diagnosis.
Talk to your counselor about the diagnosis.
Ask your counselor about your treatment reports.
Decide if you have, or want to have, a psychiatric illness.

If you have clinical, severe depression, anxiety, or other issues, then you probably already have a diagnosis.

But if you are stressed, having relationship problems, or trying to figure out your purpose in life, your symptoms may be minor, and you may not want to have a mental health diagnosis in your records.

Once an insurance claim is submitted to your health insurance company, your diagnosis becomes part of your permanent medical record, and can affect future life insurance, preexisting conditions, or the cost of private health insurance.

Jama Thurman is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Manassas, VA. She helps teens and adults who are stressed and anxious find peace and purpose.

You can get a FREE download of her book, How to Find a Counselor at [http://www.howtofindacounselor.com]. This book will help you figure out if you need professional help, how to find it, and whether you want to use your health insurance for payment for counseling services.

Health Insurance Help to Lower Your Premium

Illness for non-work related injuries can be financially devastating. Insurance keeps you protected against disastrous health care expenses and lost wages. There are enormous health insurance plans available day-to-day, the insurance cost and its benefits vary from one plans to another. Before enrolling for a policy, an individual should consult with the insurance agencies, read the policy to get the complete information about the benefits and costs and also the way the plan works.

Today, there are many more kinds of health insurance to choose from than were available just a few years ago. Traditional differences between and among plans do not longer any more. Also, there is been an increased emphasis on the role of consumers in managing their own health care and health care finances. There is a focus on providing information on the cost of care and health care quality-at the level of the physician, physician group, and hospital-to help consumers and employers choose among the many options available to them. The things have changed a lot, when most people in the United States had health insurance has indemnity insurance (also called as fee-for-service or traditional insurance). This type of insurance coverage assumed that the medical provider i.e. doctor or physicians will be paid a fee for each service provided to the patient.

When we talk about health insurance, we usually mean the kind of insurance that pays medical bills, hospital bills, and typically, prescription drug costs. Nowadays, the insurance also covers Medicare and Mediaid that provides health insurance coverage for certain people, senior citizens, people with disabilities and also an individual and families with low income. Today, the online information helps an individual to compare two best insurance policies and choose best among it. The insurance help an individual for financial planning and accordingly choose the best suitable for the family. The policy helps to avoid the burden of expensive medical bills and ensure the penny paid in health plan is paid for your care. It protects you and your family financially in the event of an unexpected serious illness or injury that could be very expensive.

In spite of available health insurance help online, unfortunately many Americans are still uninsured or underinsured. Some may be eligible for private or government but may have difficulty in finding the maze of complex rules and insurance jargons. Many more may not even have chosen the plans due to non-affordability coverage or may not be eligible for any. To help you choose right plan, we give you an overview of programs and strategies for seeking free or reduced-cost health care and managing medical debts.

Why does an individual require health insurance?

As the science and medical care advances, the ways of treatment are also increasing simultaneously. The main purpose of health insurance is to help in paying for care. It protects you and your family members in an unexpected serious illness and injury that may be high in cost. Additionally, you are more likely to get regular and routine checkups, if you have an insurance policy. Every individual requires insurance policy because you cannot predict your illness, injury and your high paying medical bills. One must seriously consider the need for health insurance for own and family. We also know that there is interlinking between having health insurance and getting protective health care. The research states that people having health insurance are more likely to have a regular doctor and get care when it is needed.

How should one get health insurance?

Most of the people get health insurance through their employers or company which they belong to. This is formerly known as group insurance. Some individuals don’t have access to group insurance. In this case, one may choose to purchase their own individual health insurance directly from public or privately owned insurance company. Most of the Americans in North America get health insurance through government programs that operate at National, State & Local Levels. Insurance- whether provided by your employer or purchased by you – can be both expensive and complex. To understand better option, you must take health insurance help from the experts and advisors.

Group Insurance:
Group Insurance is basically offered by the employers or else by an organization of which you are a member of union, professional association wherein you may get group coverage. The employee has to choose between several plans been offered by an employer’s including both indemnity insurance and managed care. Some employer may only offer one single plan. Some group plans may also include dental care with the health and medical benefits. Hence, it is a very important decision to be taken by and employee before choosing any insurance benefits offered by employer or an organization. It is also essential to compare plans to find the one that offers the benefits as per your need. Once you choose an insurance plan, you usually cannot switch over to another plan until next open season, usually set once a year.

In group health insurance, employer usually pays portion or all of the premiums. This means your costs for health insurance premiums will be lower than they would be if you paid the entire premium alone.

If you are a member of group insurance offered by an organization, you are benefited from being a member of a large group. You will have to pay lesser premium than an individual would be paying. However, the organization often does not pay a share of premium, meaning you are responsible to pay complete premium by yourself.

Individual Insurance:
In an individual Insurance, you get the coverage directly from the Insurance Company. You don’t have any access to the group insurance offered by an employer or an organization. When you buy you own insurance, you have to pay entire premium rather than sharing with an employer according to Group Insurance. In individual insurance, you do not share any cost of premium with your employer. You should analyze and choose an individual insurance plan that fits your needs at a price that you are willing to pay; you should also consult a tax advisor to find out whether you are eligible for any tax deduction as per the insurance plan.

Insurance variably differs from one company to another within an insurance industry, from one plan to another and one product to another. Hence, choosing right company, right product, right plan are the important criteria before choosing any plans.

Which type of health insurance is right for you?

Whether you choose group insurance or an individual insurance plan, you must carefully compare coverage and costs. You should compare the following important aspects like coverage and benefits, premiums, exclusions and limitations, access to hospitals, doctors, and other providers etc…

One must consider what kinds of services are covered by the plan? How are benefits being availed of health insurance plan; do you have to submit a claim? When do you need pre-approval to ensure coverage for care? What steps do you need to get the care of you and your family members need? You must ensure how does your insurance plan works. Don’t wait until you need emergency care to ask questions.

I am an author having an experience of 28 years in Insurance Industry having done the in-depth study of Insurance. Considering some knowledge, I hereby have shared some information and views about insurance, also some facts, figures and recommendation which enables an individual to choose right insurance policy from right person.