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Confusing Times for Healthcare and Health Insurance: Navigating Through the Mess


By David Straight

Talk about confusing ... healthcare reform, Supreme Court rulings, state exchanges, Highmark versus UPMC, health reimbursement arrangements, and on and on ...
Whether you have medical coverage through an employer, purchase individual insurance, or fall under Medicare or Medicaid, these are perplexing times. The change is rapid-fire, and we are flooded by a barrage of news, misinformation, and speculation from a wide variety of sources.
So can you navigate through this mess? How can you make informed decisions? As with anything important, seek the advice of an expert. In the case of health insurance, this means a trusted and qualified agent.
Here are some important considerations:
• Don’t make decisions in a vacuum. True professional advisors make it their business to stay current. They are licensed experts.
• Not all agents are created equal. Ask questions to make sure that health insurance is their primary specialty. A “jack of all trades,” financial advisor, or home/auto agent may only dabble in health insurance. That’s not good enough anymore.
• If you are a Medicare-eligible individual, find an agent who specializes in senior products. The truth is, not all health insurance advisors are qualified to sell these specialized products.
• If you are a sole proprietor, between jobs, or seeking individual insurance for any reason, seek an agent who knows this market.
• If you receive health insurance through your employer, your choices may be limited. Your employer’s agent may participate in annual enrollment meetings to educate you on your options.
• Calling a reputable insurance company directly can be helpful, but the right independent agent will do the legwork for you and provide information and quotes from all qualified insurance companies…without the sales pitch.
Here’s something many people don’t know. Seeking advice from a licensed agent does not increase your rates or cost you a fee. Because insurance companies value the role of these experts, the cost of their services is included in their pricing (whether you choose to work with an agent or not). So why not take advantage of the expertise?
Health insurance is a critical investment, yet the confusion factor today is enormous. Don’t go it alone.
David Straight is the President and CEO of Benefits Network, Inc., a leading insurance agency and consulting firm specializing in employee benefits, property & casualty insurance, and individual and Medicare products. For more information, call (724) 940-9400 or visit the website at www.benefitsnetwork.biz.

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