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Feb 12, 2014

First things first: Obtain a copy of your plan summary from human resources or directly from your insurer. Take the time to read the policy and if you don’t understand something be sure to ask questions.

Know your plan

Doctor’s offices are not perfect and sometimes mistakes are made on your bill. Always ask for an itemized statement and review it to make sure all of the services were provided. The following notes may help you save on your out-of-pocket costs:

If you have a hospital stay planned, ask if you can bring your own regular medications. Hospitals charge by the pill and you could easily pay double what the medications cost you at the pharmacy.

Go to an in-network provider whenever possible. The insurance companies negotiate fees with doctors and decide on a reasonable price for services rendered. When you go to an in-network doctor, she may not bill you for anything other than your deductible, copayment or coinsurance. If she bills you for a higher amount than has been agreed, she must write off that amount. The doctor is not allowed to bill you for it.

Know your keywords

Copayment is a set fee that you pay for each doctor’s visit or for each medication.

Deductible is the amount you must pay before payment coverage starts. Check your plan to see if doctor’s visits and emergency room visits are paid before the deductible is met; you still have the copayment for the visit and any coinsurance will apply.

Coinsurance is the percentage of the bill you must pay. An example: For an in-network provider, you may have to pay 10 percent of the bill and for an out-of-network provider you may have to pay 20 percent. Each insurance policy is different. Once you have met your out-of-pocket maximum, the coinsurance and deductible are waived.

Contribute to a flexible spending account for medical fees. You can contribute up to $2500. If you are married you and your spouse may each contribute $2500. Depending on your plan, you may now be forced to meet a deductible before any medical fees will be covered, even doctors visits. (Note this is not how every plan works; each one is different). I have seen posts on Facebook where premiums have gone up so there will be less to bring home in a paycheck; to make matters worse they must also meet their deductible before their costs are covered. Many people will have health insurance and not be able to afford to actually use it. A flexible spending card can help. Contribute at least your deductible to the account. You will pay a set amount each pay period towards your FSA. It comes out of your check before taxes. The entire amount that you have designated is available to you at the beginning of the year. You must continue to make the contributions for the entire year unless you change employers. In that event, if what you used exceeded what you had contributed you won’t be required to pay it back. I have a friend whose child received braces and shortly after he lost his job. The braces were covered by the FSA and he didn’t pay a dime; this was before they lowered what you may contribute to the FSA. If you have funds left at the end of the year or leave the company any leftover funds will be forfeited.

 

Know your network

Compare the costs of procedures at different facilities. If you are having a CT scan, MRI, myelogram, ultrasound or other tests, check to see which facilities are in-network near you. This is important for the dentist as well. Make some calls to compare the prices at different facilities for that test to find the best rate. Usually you are required to pay a percentage of the testing; the lower the fee for the test, the lower your out-of-pocket costs will be. For example: If a test is $10,000 and you have to pay 10 percent, your fee would be $1,000. If the test is $6,000 your fee will be $600 dollars. Check to see if the facility requires your payment up front or if they will allow you to make payments.

Sometimes a facility will require you to pay an estimated amount before services are rendered, and then they bill the insurance company. This can result in an overpayment by you — especially if you have already met your deductible. Always check your explanation of benefits to see what your insurance company paid and what it has determined to be your out-of-pocket costs. If you paid more than you should have, call the doctors office and ask for a refund. Don’t count on them just sending it to you; most times that won’t happen.

Don’t assume that because you went to an in-network facility for testing or a hospital stay that all of the doctors who see you will be in-network. Most of the time they are not. In this case, if you went to an in-network facility most insurance companies will treat the claim as an in network one. This results in the insurance company paying a higher percentage of the bill and reduces your costs. You still will be required to pay whatever the insurance doesn’t pay, but your cost will be lower. If you are required to pay 10 percent of a $1,000 dollar bill, your fee will be $100. If you are required to pay 20 percent because it is not in the network, you would be required to pay $200. Review the explanation of benefits and if you were billed for out-of-network services at an in-network facility, call the insurance company and request it to reprocess the claim. This has resulted in refunds for me in the past.

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Posted: Feb 12, 2014 7:47pm
Feb 10, 2014

Health care is expensive. Even with insurance coverage, the cost of treating yet the most basic of conditions can put a sizable dent to one’s wallet. According to the World Health Organization, the United States spends more on health care per capita than any other nation in the world. But, there are opportunities to save money when managing your health care needs. Many are easier than you think and the benefit may be more than you expect.

 

Start by shopping around.  We often don’t think twice when comparing prices for groceries, at department stores, or on-line retailers but doing so for medications and health related services is a common oversight. Take prescription medications for example. Have you called different pharmacies to determine how much it would cost to fill your prescription? Not all pharmacies charge the same, and depending on your insurance plan, these charges can end up being more or less for your medications compared to others. And, if the medication is something you take routinely …

choosing the right pharmacy can add additional savings throughout the year.

When choosing insurance coverage, money is lost by choosing the wrong deductible plan. While low deductible plans can offer a higher percentage of payment coverage when services are used (such as doctor visits, hospitalizations, surgeries, etc.), that usually

 

equates to spending more for your coverage up front.  Most people choose lower deductible plans thinking they will spend less out of their pocket.  The reality is, many do not factor in how much they spend, per paycheck, in premiums versus what is actually used in health care services throughout the year. 

 

If you or your family is blessed with overall good health, typically only see a doctor for a routine “check-ups”, and do not have medical conditions requiring continual needs … perhaps you should consider a plan at a higher deductible.  

The reduced upfront costs, saved paycheck to paycheck, allow you to draw interest on your hard earned money as opposed to paying for additional coverage you may never use.  

Also, inquire if your employer offers a Flexible Spending Account (FSA).  FSA’s allow you to put aside pre-taxed dollars you can use toward medical expenses.  In addition to lowering your taxable income, this allows you a dedicated savings plan to budget medical expenses throughout the year.  However, it’s important you use all of the money saved into an FSA before year’s end.  

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Posted: Feb 10, 2014 7:17pm
Feb 6, 2014

http://www.westhillinsuranceconsulting.com/

Sam was in court the other day, and while waiting for his case to get called, he watched a woman who was cited for driving without insurance talk to the judge.

The judge asked her if she had auto insurance and she said she did. "Did you have insurance on the day you were cited?"

"No," she replied.

"Well," he said, "the law is clear. You have to pay a fine plus court costs." The total came to $275. The judge gave her 30 days to pay it. She meekly asked if she could have more time, or pay over time. The judge extended the payment term to 60 days.

But what was clear to Sam is that she didn't have insurance because she couldn't afford it. Not because she didn't want to have it. It was also clear that this woman had no idea how she would be able to afford the court costs she had just been assessed. Sixty days might have just as well been six minutes.

Almost all states require drivers to carry car insurance that at least covers the person you hit. But states don't generally dictate whether you need homeowners' insurance. If you're buying a home and need a mortgage, the mortgage company will require you to carry a homeowners' policy for at least as much as the mortgage amount.

While you can't close on your mortgage without proof of insurance, many homeowners' (who aren't paying premiums monthly along with their real estate property taxes into a tax and insurance escrow) allow their policies to lapse. It isn't because they don't want to have homeowners' insurance. It's because they either forget to make the payments, or more typically, they can't afford the premiums.

Ilyce recently wrote about Sharon and Vince La Vigna, whose house was torched by a San Jose-based serial arsonist, in the early morning hours of January 11, 2014. Sharon was pulled from the fire by neighbors, just minutes before the roof collapsed.

The family didn't have homeowners' insurance. A few years earlier, Sharon lost her job. Vince is disabled, and they were scraping by on Social Security. Sharon and Vince had been making monthly payments to their insurance company when the company switched to an annual contract.

Sharon contacted her homeowners' insurance company and asked if she could pay in installments. The company said no, dropped her and the house was uninsured. Sharon and Vince had been looking for another affordable policy, hoping for the best.

Instead, an arsonist torched their home, and they lost everything.

Ilyce has received email from many people who want to help, and a fund has been established for those who are interested through YouCaring.com. But there have been plenty of readers who want to know why we aren't tougher on homeowners who let insurance policies lapse. As several emails put it, "Didn't they get what they deserve?"

We think that's a harsh attitude, as the vast majority of Americans struggle to get out from under the worst recession in 80 years. There are still three people unemployed for every job that's available. Many seniors who lost jobs, like Sharon, can't find replacement jobs that pay anything close to what they used to earn.

Paying over time has become the way many Americans afford the everyday costs of life, not even the extras like vacations. Homeowners' insurance, health insurance and auto insurance premiums are paid for monthly, or sometimes bi-weekly -- whatever chunks are affordable.

When your home is paid off, as the La Vigna's home was, homeowners' insurance is especially important. If you can't afford the coverage you have, you can try the following tips to lower your premiums or find an alternative policy that may be more affordable: Insure only the house and contents, not the land on which it sits; ask for a discount if you're a non-smoker, a senior or have home security devices; raise your deductible (even a $10,000 deductible is better than a $300,000 loss); and, bundle your car or life insurance policies together with your homeowners' policy and buy it from the same insurance company.

Sharon and Vince are now living with their son. In the past few days, an arrest was made in the case. It's not like having their house restored, but it's something.

In the case of the uninsured driver, she could reduce her costs by raising her deductible or, if her car was old, by dropping that portion of the insurance coverage relating to her car coverage but keeping the liability portion. Sometimes having that coverage and driving is better than driving without insurance.

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Posted: Feb 6, 2014 11:20pm
Feb 4, 2014

http://www.westhillinsuranceconsulting.com

 

"For the first time ever, the Senate has voted to pass NARAB II legislation to help streamline and improve the insurance licensing process for thousands of financial advisors across the nation. This significant action is an important step toward removing a regulatory barrier that has been impeding broker-dealers’ ability and financial advisors’ willingness to sell lifetime income products.

 

"On behalf of our membership, we thank Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Senator Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) for their leadership on this important issue, and we extend our appreciation to all the Senators who supported this commonsense legislation. With their continued support, more efficient and effective regulation is on the horizon.

 

"There is unprecedented momentum to enact this legislation, and we urge all Members of the House to pass S. 1926 to fulfill NARAB II’s promise of streamlined and cost-effective insurance licensing across state lines.” 

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Posted: Feb 4, 2014 8:01pm
Dec 13, 2013

http://www.westhillinsuranceconsulting.com/blog/westhill-consulting-insurance-connecticut-learns-less-is-more-with-state-health-insurance-website/

Tuesday, November 12, statistics put out by Connecticut demonstrate that its website is the only one to sign up more folks for private insurance than for Medicaid.

Angel Medina, 21, went to talk to an Affordable Health Care act navigator in Hartford. Medina was dropped from his mother’s health insurance two years ago.

“I have really bad eyes. I like to get them checked often, but since I don’t have health insurance, no doctor’s going to really want to take a look at me,” he said.

He found out that he may qualify for Medicaid, which was long-drawn-out under Obamacare.

So far, 9,123 have enrolled over Connecticut’s ultimate goal is to sign up 275,000 people.

Kevin Counihan, chief executive officer of Connecticut’s health exchange, says he’s not discouraged by the number of people signing up for private health insurance.

“Buying health insurance is expensive and it’s expensive and it’s confusing and it’s complicated. So no, I am not disappointed by it. However, we clearly have a strong goal to meet by March,” he said.

Counihan look forward to have 100,000 people enrolled by the end of March. He credits the state’s computer system with the smooth even out.

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Posted: Dec 13, 2013 6:35pm
Nov 20, 2013

http://westhillinsuranceconsulting.com/learn.html

Term life insurance: Coverage offers simplicity, flexibility

Referred to as the simplest option when it comes to life insurance, term life insurance like the name implies is insurance for a term. This means a time period as short as a year or as long as 20 or 30 years. Its sole and simple purpose is to provide a death benefit should you happen to die during the term of your policy.

It isn't as complicated like permanent life insurance that is a combination of insurance and an investment component. In term life insurance, your term life premium is devoted to life coverage only. You can select a higher death benefit with a lower premium if you are younger and in good health.

To prevent a financial difficulty for your family, start while you are young and just starting a family. Term insurance can be a better option because in this it can provide a relatively inexpensive way to secure the coverage you need to prevent a financial catastrophe. The term would assume financial obligations such as a mortgage and vehicle payments in the event of your death.

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Posted: Nov 20, 2013 7:26pm
Oct 14, 2013

http://www.westhillinsuranceconsulting.com/blog/

About Westhill Healthcare Consulting

Westhill Healthcare Consulting is one of the internet's oldest sites that offer consumer information on reasonably priced health and medical coverage since it was published during early 90's. It is the most-trusted independent site, respect and loyalty was earned trough the years of hard work. All the information on this site is projected to the general consumer audience.

Westhill Healthcare Consulting is not selling insurance and is not an insurance agency

Your concern is our business, as service to our visitors, we provide health insurance quotes from carefully chosen partners who are in the business of selling health insurance, and who meet Westhill Healthcare Consulting strict standards. It is the referrals that pay us and in turn this is what we use to pay the cost of publishing this site.

Personal advice

We are qualified to give advice on individual situations or legal issues.

Aside from our individual state pages that offers links to all state departments of insurance, Westhill Healthcare Consulting, also offers personal consulting. If you have questions about your individual situation, please contact us for our health insurance professional, or a legal professional depending on the nature of your inquiry. It is our pleasure to help you.

Comments, suggestions, criticisms

For comments, suggestions and criticism, please feel free to contact us via postal mail, e-mail or suggestion box in the latter part of this official site. Address, phone number and e-mail address is provided in our contact information. We welcome all comments, suggestions and criticism. Thank you for helping us improves our service.

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Posted: Oct 14, 2013 9:27pm
Jul 25, 2013
http://www.westhillinsuranceconsulting.com/blog/westhill-consulting-healthcare-improving-mental-status-of-elderly-in-their-nineties-cancels/

According to a new research found, those that are in their 90s today are better off than people who were in their 90s a decade ago and today getting old may look brighter. Research published in the British medical journal The Lancet by a group out of the University of Southern Denmark in Odense reviewed different parameters of mental agility in those elderly.
There were 2262 people between 92 and 93 in age in the first group and all were born in 1905 and were living in 1998 while the second group was during 2010, there were 1584 people who were all born in 1915 and was all between 94 to 95 years old in 2010.

The result of the study was those who were born in 1915 had 32 percent better chance at reading at the age of 95 and they performed both physical and mental tests far better compare to those who were born a decade earlier even in the same age. In addition, a considerable higher proportion of those who were born in 1915 got the utmost scores on mental tests, although they were older at the age of testing than those who were born in 1905.
 
The study also considered the fact the two groups differ in education because on average 1915 group had reached higher average levels of education compare to the 1905 group. But on women who had the similar level of education the results were did show a cognitive improvement from being born 10 years later even being born at both times.

According to the paper: “Even after adjusting for the increase in education between the 1905 and 1915 cohorts, the 1915 cohort still performed better in the cognitive measures, which suggests that changes in other factors such as nutrition, burden of infectious disease, work environment, intellectual stimulation, and general living conditions also play an important part in the improvement of cognitive functioning.”
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Posted: Jul 25, 2013 7:55pm
Jul 19, 2013

About Westhill Healthcare Consulting

Westhill Healthcare Consulting is one of the internet's oldest sites that offer consumer information on reasonably priced health and medical coverage since it was published during early 90's. It is the most-trusted independent site, respect and loyalty was earned trough the years of hard work. All the information on this site is projected to the general consumer audience.

Westhill Healthcare Consulting is not selling insurance and is not an insurance agency

Your concern is our business, as service to our visitors, we provide health insurance quotes from carefully chosen partners who are in the business of selling health insurance, and who meet Westhill Healthcare Consulting strict standards. It is the referrals that pay us and in turn this is what we use to pay the cost of publishing this site.

Editorial policy

Westhill Healthcare Consulting has a complete editorial freedom over the content on its pages since it was published. Some information we provide such as view expressed are our editors' and this are not to be shared by other sites we link to or partner with. On behalf universal health insurance access, advocacy efforts are issue-specific. Also, they are not supposed to be considered an endorsement of any particular elected official, political party or ideology.

We are doing our best to serve you better, your comments will be much appreciated.

Check for more info: http://www.westhillinsuranceconsulting.com/blog/

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Posted: Jul 19, 2013 8:56pm
Jun 13, 2013

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2013/jun/10/apple-google-giants-nsa-revelations

Google. Apple. Facebook. Microsoft: they are the brands that want the world to trust them with personal information, emails, photos, documents – yet they are now facing a battle to maintain that trust after disclosures that the US government was given access to their customers' data online via the Prism programme operated by the NSA.

The companies involved – Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple – vigorously deny giving the Obama administration backdoor access to users' internet information, but the potential damage to their brand reputation has left the companies floundering for a way to respond.

Viktor Mayer-Schonberger, professor of internet governance and regulation at the Oxford Internet Institute, believes there could be serious consequences for the collective reputations of all internet companies who have meticulously built their trade on trust.

He cites Amazon – not one of the companies involved in Prism – as a case in point when the company took the side of consumers after publishers protested about bad reviews. "It may have dissuaded someone to buy a book, but it instilled trust in Amazon which was far more important to it long-term," said Mayer-Schonberger. "If you violate that trust, it is difficult to re-establish. Even if it turned out to be a hoax, trust has been destroyed because everyone is talking about it."

He added: "These companies depend on their users being sufficiently trusting to give them personal data. Many of us are perfectly fine for these companies to use this information for their own commercial benefit, to place more relevant adverts on the right hand side, but we do not want it passed on to the government or to tax authorities for instance."

Greg Nojeim, senior counsel at Centre for Democracy and Technology in New York said that for Google – a company which has Don't be Evil as an informal company slogan and has pioneered online openess, "more transparency would be helpful". He said: "An important step would be for these companies to exert even more pressure; pressure on the intelligence authorities to disclose more information about intelligence related surveillance that they are compelled to conduct."

In his statement following the Prism revelations, Google CEO Larry Page indicated this was the tack his company would be taking to protect its brand reputation. "The level of secrecy around the current legal procedures undermines the freedoms we all cherish," he said.

Civil liberty activists have also been alarmed. In the UK, the US surveillance, even of high level data, has raised questions about breaches of domestic data protection laws.

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Posted: Jun 13, 2013 7:51pm

 

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