Local News

Selecting health insurance can make some people sick

Posted December 8, 2009 5:49 p.m. EST
Updated December 8, 2009 7:06 p.m. EST

— As the year comes to a close, many people have to think about what type of health insurance they need for the coming year. They often are confused and frustrated trying to wade through various options.

"You can go to Web sites and you can read books, but it's all gobbledy-gook," said Nanci Gibbs, who said she has her hands full trying to understand Medicare on her own.

On Tuesday, Gibbs went to a class sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina looking for help. Jane Campbell, president and chief executive of Benefit Plan Agency, taught the class.

For people in the process of Medicare enrollment, Campbell suggested weighing the premiums of different plans against co-payments, maximum out-of-pocket expenses and the network of physicians. Most healthy people don't think about some of those issues, she said.

"They have to take into account the fact that a sickness or an illness may come suddenly, and they may have quite a bit of medical expense," Campbell said.

Many of the same tips also apply to people buying individual policies, she said. She said people also should look into whether a plan offers discounts for things like wellness programs.

It's also a good idea for people to notify their insurance company about any positive changes they have made in their health, such as quitting smoking, she said. In some cases, that might qualify for a reduced premium.

For individuals who are on employer-sponsored insurance plans, Campbell advised to weigh all options available, compare plans and explore putting money into a health savings account if one is offered.

"It gives a feeling of having that deductible reimbursed, so to speak, when you pull money out of your health savings account," she said.