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Health Insurance Challenge for America. Can You Afford Coverage?

Sep 1, 2008
Health insurance is a formal agreement to provide and/or pay for medical care. The health insurance policy describes what medical services are "covered" by the insurance company. As a testament to the importance of health insurance in many colleges and universities health insurance is mandatory for all full-time undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in 12 or more credits.

In recent years many small business owners have passed the cost of health care insurance on to their employees. When the employees can not afford the health insurance coverage under present government policy they are just out of luck.

Some colleges have contracted with Aetna Student Health and similar providers to provide a health insurance option. This type of group coverage can be obtained at lower cost. For many families health insurance is often not affordable or unavailable and health care costs claim a growing share of household budgets. Rising numbers of people are under insured or not insured at all as they just can not afford the insurance premiums.

As medical needs and bills mount many Americans, even those with chronic illnesses, skimp on prescription drugs and needed care, and experience poorly coordinated health care. Hard working citizens lack confidence that they will be able to afford high quality health care in the future.

Shopping for health care insurance is not always easy. Medical terms can be confusing. Before speaking with an insurance agent you should make sure you understand his or her language. Make sure you read an overview of health insurance companies to get a better idea of each provider's identity. Medicare supplement insurance, commonly called Medigap or Medsup insurance, can help make up the difference between Medicare coverage and billed medical costs.

Medical expenses can be very costly, especially for those students entering the United States on a temporary basis. In addition, many health care providers at colleges and universities can deny treatment if a student does not provide appropriate records of international student insurance coverage.

Medicaid does not pay money to you; instead, it sends payments directly to your health care providers. You may also be asked to pay a small part of the cost (co-payment) for some medical services.

American women want children and are willing to pay for it, but the technology is not sufficiently refined to prevent all multiple gestation. Comparing pre-term birth and infant mortality rates in the US with any other country is truly apples and oranges, and of course, nothing skews longevity statistics like infant death. Some Americans, some reports argue, have too much health insurance. Typical plans cover things that they shouldn't, creating the problem of over use and consumption, leading to higher costs for the insurance providers.

Employers should provide their employees with written notice of their right to continuation coverage both at the beginning of employment and as the employee is going out the door, generally a separate letter dealing with health insurance benefits is best. The notice must instruct the departing employee how to inform the health insurance carrier of the employee's desire to continue coverage.

Employers are jettisoning health insurance because costs are out of control. Since 2001, premiums for family coverage have increased 78 percent, while wages have gone up 19 percent and inflation is up 17 percent.

Obama would require employers to either provide benefits or contribute to a fund that would provide coverage. McCain makes no such rules for employers or individuals. The issue of health insurance coverage and bringing the costs of medical care and services under control should be a prime presidential campaign issue.

The challenge facing American with health care and health care insurance is that the costs have gone beyond the reach of many millions of Americans. The candidate who can meet the challenge of creating a workable health care plan in America should have a major edge in reaching the Whitehouse.
About the Author
Learn more about the health care crisis in America and its consequences for the way we live and work at Can You Afford Health Insurance?
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