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Posts tagged ‘health insurance plans’

by James Tuck

5 Tips on Getting Family Health Insurance

Purchasing family health insurance can be confusing for someone who does not have knowledge of the insurance arena. Most people know that insurance is there to protect them during times of sickness or accidents, but there are also things that the common person does not know. Here are some things to consider when purchasing family insurance:

1. Most employment companies offer some sort of health insurance plans, but these plans are often not as good as the plans that can be purchased outside of the company. Many people assume that their company will offer them the best rates, but that is not always the case. In fact, while company benefits may be beneficial for an individual or a couple, when adding to a family plan these coverages can become extremely expensive. Companies are not required to cover additional members at a discount and this could make a drastic difference in premiums.

2. If a person quits their job, they can still have coverage of their benefits through COBRA. COBRA is an insurance plan that allows a person to keep their family health insurance benefits, but without the discount they used to receive. COBRA’s costs are astronomical and many think they have no options, but to have a lapse in coverage. In fact, purchasing an insurance policy from a company independently, avoiding COBRA, can actually be way more cost effective.

3. The lowest plan is not always the best plan. Just because the premiums are within the families’ budget, does not mean that this plan will provide the best coverages. In fact, sometimes the plans that have the economical payment plans will end up costing way more in the long run. Large deductibles and prescription coverages are things that people need to consider when purchasing plans. Family health insurance plans need to be reviewed and carefully read for fine print. What usually happens is that too good to be true insurance plan, is really that, too good to be true.

4. Family health insurance falls into two basic categories, HMO’s and PPO’s. It is always important to shop around and compare rates when dealing with either type of plan. There are numerous insurance companies that have various coverages options. Some will restrict insured people to only use hospitals or doctors that are in their network, this is called a PPO plan. Other plans, will allow a person to go to any medical facility these are called an HMO plan. A policy for a home is pretty standard, but health insurance plans vary greatly; it pays to shop around.

5. Those that have pre-existing conditions may have a hard time finding great insurance coverage. For instance, those who have a family member who is overweight may find that they are denied for coverages from many companies. If insurance is purchased through an employer, the employer cannot limit coverages due to pre-existing conditions. However, when purchasing insurance outside of employment, the insurance company can put all the stipulations the state will allow. Oftentimes, they will put waiting periods and may or may not cover the condition at all in the future.

Regardless of which company one chooses to purchase health insurance through, it pays to do some plenty of research. What works for one family may not work for another. Depending on ages and medical history coverage rates can be drastically different.

by Logan

What is COBRA?

Well, besides a snake, a decent book, and some last names of some famous individuals.  COBRA is a health insurance plan that can protect you.  It is an interesting  fall back plan of health insurance and it is something every individual should know more about.

When you’ve lost your job, besides the loss in income, one of the first roadblocks considered is insurance, especially health insurance. But Job loss isn’t the only thing that causes this worry. What if, your spouse was the one with insurance and you weren’t. A messy divorce may have you worried about insurance. COBRA is a solution for both cases.

COBRA stands for The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985.  This law requires many large and small employers to offer employees to continue their group health coverage.  In most cases, this health care coverage can last anywhere from eighteen months to thirty-six, depending on the situation. They will take into account disability, dependents, and spouses.

The COBRA plan would cover anyone who was covered under the plan in the first place.  Even a new child, born while under COBRA qualifies as long as they are added within 30 days of birth or adoption.

 Why would you need COBRA?

1.)     You were terminated from your employment.

2.)    You quit your employment

3.)    You lost the necessary hours for the employer to offer benefits

4.)    The divorce or legal separation of a covered employee from their spouse.

5.)    Others

Choosing to start COBRA can be a difficult position. For whatever reason arises that this must be considered, you must remember that you must approve COBRA coverage. It is not automatic. A 60 day time period is given where you may choose to begin coverage. After 60 days, additional discussion must be made with someone involved in your insurance coverage.

Payment must be made within the first month or two after initiating coverage. If the initial payment is not received, within the first 6 weeks of coverage. The insurance may be denied, revoked, or reviewed.

The interesting aspect is that COBRA is not endorsed by any insurance plans. Because it is a law, it is a provision to protect an employee and and employer to allow medical coverage even after something has happened, such as a family change or termination from employment.

The big drawl back from COBRA is price. Typically, because the employer is no longer paying a portion of your health insurance, the cost skyrockets. This has been a real turn off to many number of people. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act or ARRA has provided some breathing room in the area of cost.

This act substantially reduces the premium offered for COBRA policies. This was largely put into affect a few years ago. It was primarily for those who were terminated. Continued decreases in premiums could go for fifteen months. The deadline was May 31st 2010 and for those who took advantage – additional fifteen months of decreased premiums have been seen.

Overall, health insurance nightmares have largely been avoided, but at a steep price. But for many, this is a good bridge to be used until another source of health insurance could be found. If used for a month, or ten, insurance didn’t lapse and the result of good health coverage and relief can not be measured. Learning about COBRA in any circumstance is helpful, you never know what will happen in the future.

by Christel Swasey

From the Healthy Recipe Collection: Better Than Shrek Soup

I accidentally made Shrek Soup.  For a party.  Oh, it was scary, the night before, when I realized that the delicious soup that I had concocted appeared so brown and gluey.  My 14-year-old daughter said, “Mom, it tastes good but it looks like something Shrek would eat.”

Note to self:  If you add carrots to potato leek soup, do not puree any of them, as the orange carrots mix with the green leeks, turning the soup an ugly brown.)

In preparation for this holiday party, in which forty people were going to come to dine at my small house (which actually fits about eight people, tops) I had asked three of my guests to bring pots of soup.  I’d planned to make the fourth pot, and to bake rolls and cookies, and it would be a bread-and-soup based, simple, hearty feast.

I had planned to serve my guests what I thought was a fool-proof potato leek soup, the rich and creamy and irresistible version with a secret ingredient of whipping cream, but then: two things happened:

a) Because I had tried to wing the recipe and not read the recipe, it turned out badly the night before so I didn’t dare serve it to guests.

b)  After the fact, my conscience got the better of me.  Leeks and cream taste great, but the antioxidants in the leeks don’t cancel out the fat and cholesterol in the whipping cream, contrary to popular thought.

So, I searched for a healthy soup online and found one.  It had to be different from the three soup flavors my friends had told me they were going to bring.  And I had to run to the store, get the ingredients, and make it quickly.

So, the healthiest, easiest, yummiest-sounding soup that I found was on the Mayo Clinic’s website.  It’s a minestrone that they’ve improved by using unsalted chicken broth and fresh tomatoes rather than canned tomatoes, limiting  the sodium content.  I doubled this recipe and I also quadrupled the amount of pasta, so that the soup would feed more people.  I also added the beans and pasta separately, because I fear overcooked pasta.

It turned out perfectly.  We still have leftovers, three days later.  I just warmed some up for lunch and it is wonderful!

The good thing about making a healthy choice (like serving the Mayo Clinic Minestrone, rather than high-fat –although admittedly delectable– potato leek cream soup) is that you can fill up on this nutrient-packed soup and will end up eating fewer pieces of fudge (or whatever else your heart desires but gets clogged and sludged by.)

So, here’s a great idea for a holiday gathering.

My version of The Mayo Clinic’s Minestrone:


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

2/3 cup chopped celery

2 carrots, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

8 cups fat-free, unsalted chicken broth

4 large tomatoes, chopped

1 cup chopped spinach

3 cans canned beans (I used 1 chickpeas and 2 cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed)

1 and 1/2 cup uncooked small shell pasta

2 small zucchinis, diced

5 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

DIRECTIONS:  (My version)

In a large saucepan, I heated the olive oil over low to medium heat.  Next, I added the onion, celery and carrots and sauteed 5 minutes.   Then I added garlic and continued cooking for another3 minutes. I stirred in broth, tomatoes, spinach, and zucchini. While it boiled very briefly, and then simmered, I cooked the pasta separately.  Last, I added the beans and the pasta and fresh basil, just before serving.

Click Here To Check Out The Mayo Clinic’s Version of the Minestrone

Get healthy and get great deals on insurance. By filling out the form at the top of the page you can find great quotes for family health insurance and other insurances.

by Lyndsie

Health Insurance vs Health Plans

Health insurance usually allows individuals freedom to choose health care providers and flexibility when seeing medical specialists. Health insurance plans limit participants in their choice of medical providers and often have restrictions for consulting specialists. Both types of medical coverage offer advantages and disadvantages, so choosing between them is up to the individual and their individual health insurance plan.  However, the pros and cons should be weighed before choosing the insurance which will best meet the needs of the insured person.

Major Medical Insurance

Most health insurance falls into the category of major medical insurance, which covers large medical expenses like surgery. As a rule these insurance policies have a deductible of between $100 and $1000 dollars and a 20 percent co-payment which must be covered by the policyholder. Major medical insurance does not cover routine medical check ups or the cost of drugs administered outside the hospital.  The one exception to this occurs when  the expenses are related to surgical procedures or other care specified in the policy.

Health  Plans

Health insurance plans are offered both by traditional health insurers and by large medical corporations.
Plan providers make agreements with health care providers which limit the costs of doctor visits, medical tests, and hospital stays. By limiting the costs of medical visits, the health care plan provider can keep their expenses lower, which keeps premiums lower. Co-payments on medical plans are usually limited to a specific monetary amount like $10 or $20 dollars for each visit or service.

HMO and PPO Plans

The most commonly offered health insurance plans are health maintenance organizations and preferred provider organizations. HMOs offer the lowest premiums and co-payments, but are the most restrictive because they require individuals to see an assigned primary care physician for referrals to specialists.  With an HMO, patients are also required to have all care reviewed by the primary care provider. PPOs allow individuals greater freedom in their choice of medical providers but they have higher premium rates.

Health Insurance

Since the advent of managed care organizations or health plans, few people opt for standard medical insurance. That is primarily because it is typically more costly and usually does not include coverage for routine medical visits and prescriptions. Yearly deductibles on health insurance are usually between $1000 and $5000, which means that policyholders must spend this much on medical care before making a claim on the policy. Health policies do not usually place restrictions on  the choice of medical care providers.

Which Coverage is Better?

Managed care health insurance plans place restrictions on medical choices but offer lower costs and usually cover preventative medical programs and regular check ups. Health insurance usually doesn’t place any restrictions on the choice of medical provider or the type of tests or services requested by an individual. However, the costs of both premiums and co-payments are usually higher than those of managed care plans. When cost is the determining factor, managed care plans are preferred.

The choice of managed care health insurance plans or traditional health insurance may be made by an employer or group insurance provider.  Their primary concerns generally revolve around the cost of providing health care coverage for their employees. Individuals seeking health care insurance must weigh the cost of each type of coverage against the benefits.  That way, they can decide which type of coverage will best meet their personal needs and fit within their budget.

by Lyndsie

Health Insurance Plans Explained

The world of health insurance plans can be confusing for many people, especially for those who are not health plan administrators. It is even more confusing for those who have never had health insurance. There are four primary types of health insurance plans. Health maintenance organizations, preferred provider organizations, point of service plans and fee-for-service plans. Gaining a basic understanding of the four types offered and what makes them different from one another will help you choose the health insurance plan that is best for you and your family.

Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO)

The HMO is the most common and least expensive type of health insurance plan. It is composed of a large number of member participants, all contributing to one plan. Practically every company and corporation that offers health care uses the HMO system. Participants pay into the plan before they need medical care and when services are used, they pay a nominal co-payment.

Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO)

The PPO is also a health insurance plan composed of group members. What sets apart the PPO from the HMO is that participants can step out of the network and still receive coverage from the health insurance plan. However, the co-payment for out-of-network care is more expensive than in-network care. That is, if you go to a doctor that is not a member of the PPO you will still be covered, but at a higher co-payment.

Point of Service Plans (POS)

The advantage to a POS health insurance plan is that members can control how they exercise the plan. They can choose to either receive medical treatment under HMO rules, PPO in-network rules, or out-of-network rules. Of the four health insurance plans, the POS is perhaps the most confusing. If your employer provides a POS, be sure to talk with Human Resources before deciding how you want to use your POS health insurance plan.

Fee-for-Service Plans

Fee-for-service plans are the complete opposite of the HMO and were the first type of health insurance plans made available. Simply put, when you need medical care, the doctor, hospital, or clinic submits a claim to your insurance company. The insurance company then reimburses the doctor after you pay the deductible. These plans often do not offer preventative type medical care, but only necessary and needed treatment. The advantage however, is that you can choose to visit the doctor of your choice.

Health insurance plans can be confusing.  HMOs offer preventive coverage such as dental and vision care, and cover a large range of medicines as well. The disadvantage of an HMO is that you must use the doctors, hospitals, and clinics that are medical members of the plan. By contrast, a PPO plan offers more flexibility by allowing members to step out of the network. POS and fee-for service plans offer even more flexibility, but lack the group member benefits. By learning a little about the available plans and asking questions, you will be better prepared to choose the best health insurance plan for yourself and your family.