The Pre-ACA Frontier
Prior to 2010, purchasing private health insurance usually did not cover maternity, or preventative like it does now, and mental health was generally non-existent. Many people believed that they had a comprehensive plan that would make medical care affordable; the reality was that even “good” health insurance plans had exclusions, limits, and maximums, allowing insurers to keep their rates lower. Men and women were charged different rates, and there certainly wasn’t any pediatric dental or vision coverage built into the plans.
How the ACA Changed Health Insurance
The Affordable Care Act, which was enacted in March 2010, mandated that insurers treat sick people and healthy people in the same way. Coverage couldn’t be denied and premiums couldn’t be increased for pre-existing conditions, and every health insurance plan was required to provide coverage for 10 essential benefits, including preventative care, mental health, substance abuse services, prescription drug coverage, and more.
The Wild, Wild West Once Again
At least for now, many aspects of ACA are still in place. Currently, an insurer can’t turn you away for a pre-existing condition, and long-term health insurance plans still have to provide coverage for ACA’s 10 essential health care benefits.
However, a couple things have changed: beginning in July 2018, people will be able to sign up for short-term health insurance plans, which are more affordable but offer significantly fewer benefits, for up to 360 days (versus 90 days). Additionally, the individual mandate is essentially gone, meaning that beginning in 2019, there will be no tax penalty for foregoing health insurance. We can likely expect to see an increase in non-ACA-compliant health insurance plans that could leave many people without basic coverage.
Shopping Around for Health Insurance
As regulations are loosening and non-ACA-compliant health insurance plans are becoming more widely available, it’s important to make sure your health insurance policy offers adequate coverage. Seek out a comprehensive health insurance plan that offers no caps on specific coverages. If possible, avoid purchasing a health insurance plan that is labeled “limited benefits;” this is an up-front clue that you’ll get sub-par coverage. Finally, make sure that the important things are covered, including preventative care, prescription drugs, and hospitalizations. If something isn’t specifically listed in your policy, assume that you’ll have to pay for it entirely out of pocket. The smartest thing you can do for yourself, is find a broker you know that has your best interest in mind.
If you have never faced a serious injury or illness, then you may have a difficult time understanding just how expensive medical care can be. Talk to a Las Vegas Nevada health insurance agent to learn more about the health insurance plans available to you, and to choose the plan that is right for your needs and budget.