Health Insurance Is Confusing but Critical to Understand

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by Carlos Briceño |

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My wife and I are fortunate to have health insurance, which pays for some of our medical bills, but not all of them.

My eyes glaze over when I hear words like deductibles and copays. I don’t understand insurance, and I don’t really want to. Jill has always taken care of our family’s medical bills. She has a background in healthcare and insurance, so it is easier for her to understand and deal with it. I’ll hand her an envelope from a doctor’s visit and oftentimes it will be “magically” taken care of.

The last time a bill arrived, Jill told me we should sit down and discuss it. Discuss what, I wondered. What was there to talk about? Jill was trying to say that it’s necessary for me to engage with things like medical bills and insurance. It’s important, and not just because she may not be able to take care of it one day. As a married couple, we should both be able to handle the family finances, including health insurance.

I am finding out that healthcare is more than just paying bills. My first lesson came when our daughter started a new job and was thus covered by her own insurance policy. Jill showed me how much we would save by removing her and switching to individual plans. I never realized how much money we were paying for a family plan.

My second lesson came when our daughter was still on our insurance plan and we received a bill for her. Jill always asks for billing insurance codes to make sure they match the services that were given. The billing codes indicate what the services were for and allow the insurance company to make payments. Sometimes the billing codes are incorrect, which costs a significant amount of money. I don’t have a background in insurance, so I told Jill I couldn’t learn to navigate the codes, but she said I wouldn’t have to: All it takes is a quick internet search to find the codes.

My third and final lesson came when Jill explained our pre-tax benefits card. The issuer of the card takes a predetermined amount of money from our paychecks before taxes to pay medical bills. We’ve saved money on things we knew we were going to pay for anyway. When a bill comes, we pay it with the “credit card” given to us. Then, a few days later, we can log onto a website to scan and upload the bill.

Jill said there’s more to learn about insurance, but we have time for more lessons. I think she only said that because she saw my eyes glaze over, which is what happens when I get overwhelmed. But I was grateful that Jill is smart and practical enough to help me now so that, one day, I can help her, and turn one of my weaknesses into a strength.


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