5 essential facts about health insurance

Patients must make sure charges are paid
Patients must make sure charges are paid © Arvind Balaraman/

Patients must make sure charges are paid

For years, many consumers have "presented their health insurance cards as though they were credit cards, and never saw or cared about bills or the cost of the services they received," Seltzer says.

But consumers have always been ultimately responsible for their own health care costs.

After many employers began offering health insurance as a benefit following World War II, "employees became complacent, assuming that the health insurance would assume all risk and make all payments," Tobin says.

However, the contractual agreement is with the provider and patient, as it always has been, and insurance companies process the medical claims "as a courtesy for their customers," Tobin says. "Many customers don't realize that insurance doesn't cover everything past a copay."

If the insurance won't cover part of a bill and you don't pay it, it's your credit that takes the hit -- not the insurance company's.

Many of the insurance plans offered through the Affordable Care Act carry higher deductibles and coinsurance requirements than previous plans, Seltzer notes.

As a result, many individuals will be responsible for paying a more significant portion of their bills and consequently may "be looking to become better consumers of health care services," he says.


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