Employer insurance plan coverage. Obamacare. Private health insurance. When it comes to picking a new health insurance plan every year, the choices seem to be endless. And even after settling on a plan, the amount required to cover the medical deductible can be thousands of dollars. Stressed about how to pay the bills when a sudden medical event occurs? You bet.
However, many consumers are supplementing their health insurance coverage to add financial protection from the unexpected since it is difficult to estimate health care costs during the year. Supplemental health insurance coverage can protect a family budget and serve as “insurance for your insurance.” Starting at about $1 a day, supplemental insurance pays cash benefits for accidents, hospitalization due to an accident or a critical illness diagnosis.
Real Life: How Supplemental Health Insurance Works
The O’Brien family includes mom, dad, and three children, Kaylee, Grace and little Joey. Kaylee, the oldest, loves to ride her bike to school every day. One typical Tuesday morning, Kaylee is on her way to school when a car backs out of a driveway, right in front of her. She swerves to miss the car and hits the curb, sending Kaylee over the handlebars fast. She lands on her arm. Crunch. Kaylee breaks her arm.
After an emergency room visit and fresh new cast, Kaylee’s bicycle accident costs over $6,000. The family health insurance deductible is $10,000, which means the family is entirely responsible for all of the medical bills. But with their supplemental insurance plan that includes $5,000 of accident coverage, Kaylee’s family is only responsible for about $1,000 of the total cost.
Navigating The Health Care Landscape
A recent study by Alegeus, a consumer health care solutions company, asked 4,000 Americans what their attitudes and perceptions were for managing their own health care, and provided insight on how the industry can provide more support to consumers as they navigate the landscape of health care.
The survey analyzed “The Moment of Truth,” which refers to the moment when people make a decision, make a purchase, comparison shop, manage and maintain their care, and ultimately peg the moment of crisis when it all comes to a head.
Maintaining wellness is perceived as the easiest function for consumers to manage when it comes to health care (52% are moderately confident they can manage). However, the level of confidence slips from there.
As the health care marketplace moves to make individuals more responsible for their health care costs, it places stress on consumers who are now required to take an active role in managing virtually all aspects of their health care. A decade ago, health insurance plans bore much more of the responsibility to cover health care expenses. Individuals and families picked a plan based on doctor copays or deductibles and were done. Today many consumers are disengaged from their health care because they were “conditioned” not to pay attention to the health care process beyond picking a plan, and are now realizing they are expected to carry the financial burden beyond paying the monthly cost for coverage.
The study reveals some key insights about how consumers are feeling about their new-found responsibilities:
- 76% of consumers now say they are very focused on getting the best value for the money they spend on health care
- 66% of consumers rate “planning for out-of-pocket costs” as the most challenging and stressful aspect of managing their health care
- 59% believe it is a challenge to understand the between different plan options
- 45% don’t understand the cost implications of different choices
- 58% find it difficult to estimate their out-of-pocket costs during the year
- Universally, consumers expressed low levels of confidence in decision-making across all facets of healthcare (less than 33%), Alegeus believes consumers need significant support to take a more active role in their care
- Say what? The study found that 69% of consumers want simple explanations of health care jargon in their own language to help them gain more information about the health care choices they are making
- Those enrolled in consumer-directed health plans are more cost-conscious and financially savvy, with 22% more focused on savings and 25% more interested in understanding cost implications of different choices
The study affirmed that consumers are feeling the pinch of health care expenses in their monthly and long-term budgets. Tools, education and support are the keys to helping consumers become savvier and reduce stress about their health care choices, and their financial savings goals.
Did You Know?
With HealthValues, extra money-saving benefits are included with the price of membership and include free doctor consultations and discount health care services. Discover how you can start managing your health care better! Visit HealthValues today.