Navigating health care 101
Written by Cynthia Brown
There's a new book out there that can help you sort out the not-so-pleasant truths about insurance companies in the health business. Wendell Potter worked for top insurance companies like Cigna and Humana for over 20 years. He's now a senior analyst at the Center for Public Integrity and has come out with a new book, Deadly Spin, a rather shocking expose of the health insurance industry.
His first bit of advice is to trash any marketing materials developed by the insurance company.
This information, Potter says, has one purpose - to get you to buy their plan.
"If you're trying to buy insurance in the individual market," Potter says, "you should know that those insurers are looking to sell coverage only to young and healthy people.
"If you aren't particularly young or healthy, you'll be charged more or have limited benefits or both. And even if you get insurance through your employer, you need to study the details carefully. Always ask the insurer or your benefits department for a copy of the actual policy. Read it, and find out what the benefits are and what your co-pays, deductibles, premiums etc. will be."
Potter encourages people to avoid so called mini-med or limited-benefit plans which are sold to individuals or through small employers and are now being offered by big companies like fast food restaurants.
Potter calls these policies, "fake insurance."
The health law eliminates these plans in 2014, when no lifetime or annual caps on coverage will be allowed, but the insurance industry will lobby hard to keep the caps so watch out.
Before enactment of the new health care law, it was difficult if not impossible to get comparable information on various health plans.
But now anyone can visit Home | HealthCare.gov to get comparisons for rates from different insurers in your area and each state has a website with information about insurance available in that particular state.