Friday, November 01, 2013

How to Spot a Fake Obamacare Horror Story

Since insurers have begun informing beneficiaries that their health care plans do not meet the new federal requirements of Obamacare, and will be either cancelled or significantly altered, the media has profiled countless middle class Americans who claim that the new health care law will force them to pay more for coverage.

Deborah Cavallaro, for instance, a real estate agent from Los Angeles, was enrolled in an individual plan that cost her just $293 per month. Under Obamacare, Cavallaro says she’ll have to pay over $400 for coverage she doesn’t need or want. But a higher premium doesn’t tell the whole story: while Cavallaro may spend more each month, she’ll be buying more comprehensive insurance with fewer out-of-pocket costs, better benefits that will cover more and cost her less if she actually falls ill, and much more robust consumer protections.

So before you buy into the sticker shock hysteria, here are four questions you should ask:

1. What does the old plan actually cover? Most of the policies in the existing individual health care market — which are currently issuing notices — offer low premiums, but also come with skimpy benefits and high out-of-pocket costs. These plans often have low limits for outpatient treatment, hospitalization or don’t offer any benefits for procedures like colonoscopy, chemotherapy or mental health treatment. Insurers market these policies to young and healthy people who don’t use their coverage — and never know the true extent of their benefits. (The market is also fairly mobile, with just 17 percent of individual subscribers purchasing the same plan for two years or longer.)
Under the Affordable Care Act, insurers cover 10 essential categories of benefits, offering far more comprehensive coverage than what’s available in most individual insurance plans.

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