Consumer Guides About Part-Time Workers, Medigap Coverage And Navigating Medical Costs
News outlets offer consumer guides about health insurance.
"The health-care overhaul will greatly improve insurance prospects for part-time workers -- but not right away," Kaiser Health News reports. "Starting in 2014, the state-based exchanges, designed to help people find affordable health insurance, will offer a choice of subsidized health plans with different levels of coverage for part-timers and others who don't get insurance through their jobs. The law also expands the Medicaid program to permit adults with incomes up to 133 percent of the poverty level (for an individual, that's $14,410 this year) to qualify for coverage. But 2014 is more than three years away. In the interim, part-timers may have limited options," including using community health centers (Andrews, 6/29).
The Wall Street Journal: "Consumers shopping for Medicare supplement insurance, or Medigap coverage, have some new options. On June 1, insurers started selling two new lower-cost Medigap policies and stopped offering four others. At the same time, the federal government, which regulates Medigap benefits, started requiring plans to cover at least a portion of hospice costs." Medigap plans make up most of the difference between the cost of medical services and the amount Medicare pays. The two new Medigap plans sold "charge lower premiums than most other Medigap plans, but consumers must pay a higher share of the cost for various services" (Tergesen, 6/27).
Indianapolis Star: "Despite mounting pressure on hospitals and insurers to provide consumers with more easy-to-understand information on the true cost of care, patients can still face a doozy of a medical bill when they least expect it. The reasons, as with health care itself, are complicated. But one thing is clear: Modern insurance plans are forcing Americans to shop for their own health care in a system that lacks simple and transparent pricing information. Experts say patients must be vigilant to make certain they are not overcharged," even after the new health law is implemented. Insurers have taken some steps toward transparency of costs, but, "for the most part, U.S. medical care still lacks the kind of clear and simple pricing information Americans have come to expect when they purchase just about everything else" (Lee, 6/29).