Are you one of the millions of Americans who finally have health insurance? Although you're probably feeling relieved to have the financial protection your new health plan provides, don't assume that your health plan will pay for all of your health care. You'll probably still end up paying out-of-pocket for at least some of your health care. Learn why in ""I Have Health Insurance. Why Do I still Have to Pay for Health Care?"
Whether health insurance is new to you or you've been insured for years, managing your health insurance can be confusing. Get your ducks in a row to make sure nothing falls through the cracks. Here's what needs to be done.
- If your health plan uses a claim system, make sure a claim is filed each time you get health care. If you use an in-network provider, your provider will usually file any necessary claims. However, if you go out-of-network, you may have to file the claim yourself.
- Follow up on each and every claim. Make a note to yourself to check on the status of the claim in 4-6 weeks if you haven't received an EOB. Usually claims are processed without a glitch. However, sometimes your health plan may request more information. While the health plan usually requests this information from the service provider, if you're aware, you can intervene to make sure any necessary information gets to your insurer in a timely manner.
- Follow your explanation of benefits. When your health plan has completed processing a claim, it will send you an EOB. Read those EOBs to make sure the claim was paid correctly and your share-of-cost like deductible, copay and coinsurance was listed correctly. Get in the habit of reading each EOB and cross-referencing it with each claim. This isn't just so you can catch billing errors; it's to alert you to medical identity theft and health care fraud.
- Pay your health insurance premium on time every month. If it isn't taken from your paycheck automatically, consider setting up an automatic payment system through your bank or credit card.
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If you're one of the newly-insured millions, you may have a steep learning curve ahead. If you haven't had health insurance before or haven't been covered for years, you may be surprised by how much you have to pay out of your own pocket for health care even though you have health insurance.
If you don't understand your health plan's rules and accidentally violate one, you may end up getting health care services your health plan won't pay for. You could be stuck paying the bill yourself even though you have health insurance.
How do you make sure this doesn't happen to you? You have to understand how your health plan works and what your responsibilities are. Start by reading "Understand Your Health Insurance: 7 Key Concepts."
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If you're going to itemize your tax deductions this year, don't forget about the tax deduction for medical expenses. Learn which expenses count and whether or not it will be worth your while in "How To Write Off Medical Expenses as a Tax Deduction."