As we quickly approach open enrollment season, many people are taking time to assess their options when it comes to health insurance. In the last week or so, headlines are popping up talking about the increase in premiums for exchange plans under the Affordable Care Act. As we are finding out, more young people are opting to forego health insurance because of the high costs and to pay the federal fine instead, taking their chances on avoiding the extra costs.
Many Americans are concerned, and this includes not only young people and those who have health insurance plans under insurance exchanges, but also those who have decent insurance coverage through their employer. Many worry, in particular, about unexpected medical bills, and research suggests there is good reason for this.
Unexpected medical bills can come about in a number of ways, but often stem from medical care with an out-of-network provider which the insured cannot control. Surprise out-of-network care can stem from in-network hospitals and surgeons using out-of-network providers or from unexpected referral to an out-of-network provider. In some cases, it can result from consumers not understanding their health insurance benefits and making poor choices about care.
For consumers of medical services, it is important to be proactive about one’s own medical care, including understanding one’s plan coverage and ensuring accurate medical billing. In our next post, we’ll say a bit more about this topic, as well as how medical bills can be addressed in the bankruptcy process.