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Health Insurance: Coverage, Care and Educating Others

Posted: October 27, 2015

As the open enrollment period for insurance plans start, millions of consumers will make decisions about purchasing health insurance for 2016.

Some will select health insurance from employer sponsored health plans while others will visit The Health Insurance Marketplace to select a plan. Before making, this key decision, refresh your memory about health insurance basics. Read information provided by employers and view a short series of videos, Coverage to Care made available by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare. In less than 15 minutes, you can view the 11 short videos and become a more informed consumer. The videos, available in English and Spanish, cover tips on selecting a policy, key words to understand, how to find and decide on a provider, and how to prepare for visits to the doctor. Finally, there are suggestions for staying healthy which is a good way to control your health care costs.

While staying healthy is one way to control health care cost, unexpected health events happen daily and usually require money. Having access to health care, i.e. health insurance, is a key factor in maintaining financial stability and handling unexpected health events with ease. Without health insurance you could be one step away from filing bankruptcy.

While the lack of health insurance has been the primary reason for bankruptcy filings in recent years, many who use and benefit from health insurance sometimes do not understand its importance. As you make decisions about the 2016 health insurance coverage for you and your family, use this as a teachable moment to start educating your children (and perhaps other adults in your home) about the family’s health care coverage.

For example, discuss aspects of health insurance at:

  • dinnertime
  • whenever your family gathers in a central location
  • as you drive from a doctor’s visit
  • pick-up a prescription from the pharmacy

Share with the children the name of your insurance company and where insurance cards are located. Let them know how much the family pays each month for coverage. Discuss how you make co-payments each time you visit a doctor’s office. Discuss the cost of prescription drugs and what is paid by you and the insurer. In short, start to look for ways to improve each member of your family's knowledge about health insurance. While they may not totally understand everything you share with them on the first attempt, you will be establishing a foundation you can build upon in the years they are under your care. By the time your children become young adults and live on their own, they will be competent and more confident when it is time for them to make decisions about health insurance. Words like co-payment, deductible, and co-insurance will be as familiar as the ABCs.

Contact Information

Cathy F. Bowen
  • Professor of Agricultural and Extension Education
Phone: 814-863-7870