October 14, 2015 by Tony Novak
guest post by Justin Kemp, edited by Tony Novak
Some health insurance exchanges and plans are ending across the U.S. There are health insurance plans that were grandfathered, but at the start of 2016, will no longer be an option for many Americans. The future for some other exchanges isn’t looking the greatest either – with more closures before the year ends. What are the options for those people that won’t have coverage in place? What do you do without coverage?
Let’s first look two recent closures of state Co-op exchanges as examples. Health Republic Insurance of New York stated that they will not be renewing coverage for individual and small group health plans as well as stop writing new plans. Kentucky Health Cooperative is another example of Co-op exchanges taking on too much, too early, and failing. 51,000 members of this exchange are forced to look for new coverage during the next enrollment period starting November 1, 2015. These closures will leave many without coverage and, due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirement stating each person must have healthcare coverage or face a penalty, people will need to replace coverage immediately. It’s either a penalty or coverage in place. Again, what do I do in this situation with a limited budget? You have to find something instead of having nothing in place. Even if it’s for a month or two – life has a funny way of hitting when you least expect it, especially you when you’re down.
What happens when you lost your coverage? It may not mean much because you’re not dealing with the cost. The problem is now that you aren’t seeing providers because you don’t have coverage. If you aren’t seeing providers, you might not be aware that you have a chronic condition. Or, you might be already dealing with a chronic condition, but you don’t have the out-of-pocket funds to continue treatment. There are many negative scenarios, but almost all are preventable and solvable by seeing a provider and having something in place, rather than nothing. The whole point of seeing a physician is to make sure all is well and that things continue to go well. Prevent future issues and deal with current issues before either grow out of control.
Let’s say you drive to the doctor without coverage and ask to be seen. Offices may not accept you as they know they cannot make money without health insurance. You would sit there waiting and then be told to leave. Try calling a physicians office and ask to be seen. The first or second question from the office will be this: “Who is your insurance provider?” Then, when you tell them you don’t have anything, they will mysteriously end the call. You become metaphorically stranded on an island with no help.
To get off that island, you could use supplemental benefits as a low-cost alternative. There are low-cost plans that cover non-emergency care, dental, vision, and others. A perfect example of a low-cost coverage would be telemedicine – using audiovisual devices to communicate with a physician live from your living room. By using your tablet, smartphone, or your home computer, you can video chat with a camera and speak live with a physician. Even better, instead of being told to go talk to a specialist after going to the physicians office (multiple trips), you have the opportunity to get a specialist on the video chat live with you and the physician. This is a massive convenience to you as the patient. Having the resource of a physician via video chat is godsend because you don’t have to drive to the doctors office and sit there with people hacking and wheezing next to you. And for those that live in snowy areas in the winter – no drive through the snow!
Taking time off from work is a hassle and a pain. Instead of leaving work for a full day, you can sit in the luxury of your own home and see a physician live on your computer, laptop, smartphone, or tablet. The future has come, and it’s starting to reshape our healthcare system. This allows you to call 24/7 and speak with a physician. No lengthy trips sitting in a waiting room with everyone coughing and wheezing next to you. Instead, you’re in your own home with a cup of coffee and a video feed speaking with a physician.
Being completely shut out of the healthcare system is not beneficial. If you have something instead of nothing, you still get access to some sort of healthcare and treatment. Having some coverage in place is much better of an option. Well, how do I get some coverage instead of none? Easy – there are providers out there with limited coverage that include Dental, Vision, Hearing, and others.
For a listing of available dental, vision, hearing, telemedicine and other non-insurance plans available in your area see the web site of the nation’s leading provider: Careington. Freedom Benefits advocates that in instances where qualified health insurance is not available or is not affordable, a non-insurance plan that gives limited access to health care is better than having no access at all.