6 sneaky health care and insurance ‘gotchas’

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Did you know that if you bring up an existing health problem during your free Medicare annual preventive care visit, your doctor may stick you with a bill?

Or that those “essential health benefits” under health insurance reform may not be free if your insurance plan is fairly old?

Or that travel insurance may not pay off if you cut a trip short due to a pre-existing health condition?

These and other health care “gotchas” await unsuspecting consumers who haven’t read the fine print in their health, travel or auto insurance policy.

“Most of the gotchas in medical situations are the result of miscommunication and a lack of understanding on both sides,” says Nicole Duritz, a vice president with AARP.

Yes, health care has changed, largely due to the Affordable Care Act. And Lynn Quincy, associate director of health reform policy for Consumers Union, says it’s making us better health care consumers.

“In the past, I think consumers felt utterly powerless because these insurance contracts were just incomprehensible,” she says. “Now, thanks to health reform, they feel they can take charge and push back.”

Ready to take charge? Here’s how to prevent six common medical gotchas.