The Escalating Cost of Health InsuranceThe health insurance crisis facing Americans today involves the cost of private coverage and the realistic alternatives available to the individual who does not have access to employer group insurance. The number of US citizens who do not have health insurance is approaching 45 million. This number does not have a chance of decreasing unless some drastic changes occur in the health care and insurance industries, and with each one of us. Until then, people are faced with few alternatives. For people who are unemployed or self-employed, a policy covering a family can cost as much as $15,000 per year, forget about having pre-existing illnesses. One alternative worth exploring is an association health plan.
Buying your own health insurance offers the flexibility to choose plans and to carry the policy even if you move or change employers. The down side of buying your own policy is having to pay extra for the convenience. Most employee group insurance arrangements are not as easy to deal with. The concept of the association health plan offers the freedom inherent in owning your own plan with the added bonus of the savings you get with a group plan.
Association Health InsuranceMany trade associations, such as the National Association for the Self-Employed offer their members the opportunity to buy health insurance. Being a member of a trade association, whether you are currently employed or not can qualify you to buy an insurance plan. The caveat here is to know what you are getting into before you commit. There is much less regulation of these plans and they may not cover all diseases and conditions. The benefit of limiting the amount of coverage is that the price can be less. On the other hand, There is no rule in place to prevent the insurer from jacking up the rate substantially. Most association health plans are honest and above-board. You still need to examine the fine print on the contract very carefully.
Analyzing the Health Care MessEveryone who must wrestle with the health care crunch seeks to understand how we got here in the first place. The price of a health insurance policy continues to increase because people demand more and there are more people demanding it. The price goes up to accommodate for the demand for emerging new therapies, pharmaceuticals and services. The price goes up to compensate for the fact that people are living longer and developing longer-lasting, treatable chronic illnesses. This is perhaps the single most devastating factor to impact the health care system to date.
An Ounce of PreventionWe have seen the emergence of an obesity epidemic, type-2 diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease resulting from our sedentary modern lifestyle. Each one of us needs to take a long look down that road to envision where we are heading. Fast food, alcohol, aversion to exercise and cigarette smoking must be dealt with intelligently. We need to constantly remind ourselves where we will be without health insurance when all of our vices finally catch up with us.