News Columns & Blogs

Health reform – this year or next?

As we continue to watch the news, you almost have to say, “So, nothing is really going to happen to fix the health insurance problem.” Unfortunately, this is a slow process with everybody and their brother offering up different solutions that they think will work without taking away our freedom of choice.

In the meantime, individual and group health insurance premiums continue to rise. Employers and individually insured consumers continue to raise their deductibles, cut benefits and/or even cancel their health insurance coverage altogether. By raising the deductibles on your individual or group health insurance plan, you will more than likely cut your health insurance premium, but at what price? When you make the decision to do this you also will more than likely create more gaps in coverage and more out-of-pocket expenses for yourself. With the economy being what it is and what it has been for the past year, the above-mentioned choices have become necessities for some companies and individuals.

With this being said, what can we do as insurance consumers to help fill the gaps or even replace what we have lost? Some of the choices that we have available are plans that offer more preventative care coverage upfront, before the deductible kicks in. We also can look at high-deductible plans like HSAs and PPO networks that offer discounts before deductibles are met.

When looking to fill in gaps of coverage, there is an array of options: Long-term care insurance, critical illness plans, cancer plans, accident plans, limited-benefit plans (“mini-meds”) and stand-alone discount drug plans. All of these plans can supplement your health insurance coverage for a reasonable and affordable premium.

Will this be the best answer to your health insurance coverage? Probably not, but it does give you some choices to explore when making the decisions on which way to go to expand your coverage or to fill in the open gaps in your coverage.

Get with your local independent agent and discuss these options for your health insurance needs. We know that eventually there will be changes to our health care delivery system, we just don’t know when. — Kim Cummins is the life and health specialist for Des Champs & Gregory, Inc., which has offices in Bradenton and Lakewood Ranch.