With open enrollment for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also called “Obamacare,” beginning on October 1st, 2013, now is an excellent time to ask yourself how much you know about your own health insurance. If you plan on shopping for health care insurance in the Washington State marketplace, are you familiar enough with the terms used by insurance companies to make the most informed decision for yourself and your family? For example, do you think that a “premium” is an expense at the time of receiving medical service or a prescription? Do you think a “copay” is the cost of obtaining insurance?
According to poll results released in August 2013 by the American Institute of CPAs, more than half of Americans are not equipped with the basic knowledge of health insurance concepts and definitions to understand the basics of health insurance plans. According to the poll, 51 percent of adults surveyed could not accurately identify at least one of the three most common health insurance terms present in insurance contracts: premium, deductible, or copay. (Incidentally, the poll also found that 41 percent of those surveyed were not knowledgeable about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, with 48 percent of young adults ages 18 to 34 having no knowledge of this change in health care laws.) This is especially troubling given that the Affordable Care Act requires all Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty beginning in 2014.
If you have suffered a traumatic personal injury and are lost in a sea of unfamiliar insurance terms, understanding the basics of health insurance is important to help you make more informed decisions about your medical needs and expenses, and how they affect your household finances. However, knowing what your medical provider’s billing department is referring to when you speak with them during an appointment, or how to read the constant stream of statements you receive in the mail will also reduce the stress already there when you are living with and treating for injuries caused by another person’s negligence.
In addition to the many ways available on various web sites to help you increase your Insurance 101 I.Q., we have additional resources on our web site.