The complexities of health insurance today can drive anyone to a nervous breakdown. PPO’s, HMO’s, primary caregivers, specialists, deductibles, co-pays are all words that contribute to a confused look on the average consumers face. Understanding what you need as well as what you have, and how to make the two situations work is very daunting to most people.
Many employers offer health insurance to their employees. This is by far the least expensive way to acquire health insurance for yourself and your family. You are responsible for paying a certain amount, and your company contributes as well. However, when buying into a corporate health plan, you are often limited as well. Many times you are told who you and cannot see, as well as what procedures are covered, how many days of hospitalization the insurance company will pay for, and whether or not you’re allowed to change doctors if you don’t quite suit you. In addition to limitations such as women’s health issues and reproductive health, many corporate insurance providers will only cover “certain” types of illness, injury, and disorders. Many mental health issues aren’t covered, as well as maternity care both prenatal and postpartum.
So how does a consumer get the most bang for their buck when it comes to health care? In addition to company-sponsored health care for bigger issues like hospitalization, many people are taking advantage of the local clinics and “free” or reduced health care programs. Mental health clinics often see people who are insured (not just the uninsured) because their insurance doesn’t cover their treatment or medication. Women will often seek care for routine pap smears and mammograms from clinics that specialize in reaching out to low-income patients because their insurance either won’t cover these tests or won’t cover them completely. And state Medicaid programs are picking up the tab for pregnant women across the country who are employed but are underinsured.
Many self-employed people seek insurance coverage for themselves. Finding the best rates to cover them in the event of an emergency is usually the extent that most small business owners are able to afford. It’s always surprising to find the local tax preparer sitting next to a poverty-stricken mother of three in the low-income clinic. Contractors must provide workers compensation for themselves, as well as attempt to insure themselves for health provisions.
There are alternatives to low-cost health insurance as well. Many people simply cannot afford ANY health insurance whatsoever, including what is considered the low cost. There are millions of uninsured Americans who have no way to provide for their families in the event of a health emergency. Most major cities have hospitals that provide care for the indigent, as well as a variety of clinics that provide everything from mental health, to women’s health, to well-baby checkups. For those who find themselves in the emergency room in the middle of the night with a ruptured appendix, they can rest in the knowledge that the hospital taking care of them will likely offer some type of financial aid for their care. Even private hospitals offer financial aid to those who qualify. Many people are eligible for state assistance as well; many states offer Medicaid options to those who are uninsured. Some of these programs are free; you need only to apply. Others require low monthly payments and small co-payments. There are options for everyone who is looking for low-cost health care, whether it comes in the form of insurance or free clinics.