Frequently Asked Insurance QuestionsWhat is health insurance? Health insurance is a type of insurance coverage plan designed to cover the costs of your healthcare expenses. With health insurance you are protected against unexpected medical costs due to illness or injury. It also covers medical examinations and prescription medicines. There are many types of health care insurance available. In the US, health care insurance is often provided by companies to their employees. It can be purchased by individuals as well. Why do I need healthcare insurance? No matter what your age or the condition of your health, everyone needs health insurance. Illness and injury can happen to anyone at any time. Healthcare insurance protects you from unexpected, disastrous medical costs as well as providing access to routine and preventive care if you have health insurance. Under the Affordable Care Act everyone is required to have some sort of healthcare insurance. If you’re not covered, you’ll have to pay a penalty to the IRS for every month you don’t have coverage. What is the ACA? Also known as “Obamacare”, the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, (short for Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) was signed into law in 2010. The ACA is designed to provide you with access to quality healthcare for all Americans while curbing the costs of healthcare insurance. It expands the benefits, rights and protections for the insured while creating new rules and regulations for insurance companies to keep medical costs down. The ACA sets up healthcare marketplaces or “exchanges” where you can shop for insurance plans that provide the coverage you need at rates you can afford. How do I get health insurance? Many companies provide health insurance for their employees, although enrollment is generally limited to certain periods of the year. Check with your company’s HR department to find out what kinds of coverage plans your employer offers. Individuals not covered by employer plans can purchase health care for themselves or their families using the ACA’s marketplaces. I have a pre-existing medical condition. Can I still get health insurance? Under the ACA, insurance companies can no longer deny healthcare coverage to persons with pre-existing medical conditions. Nor can they drop individuals when they become ill. What is an enrollment period? This is the annual period when you can enroll in a health insurance plan. The open enrollment period for 2017 runs from November 1, 2016 to January 31, 2017. Employer-based plans may have different open enrollment Periods. Check with your employer to find out when your company’s open enrollment period is. If you fail to get insurance coverage during the open enrolment period you may still be able to enroll in a health plan if you qualify for a special enrollment period. A special enrollment period only applies during certain circumstances, like getting married, having a baby, or losing other health coverage. You can apply and enroll in a Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) any time of year. What if I can’t afford life insurance? The government provides tax credits and other subsidies to individuals and families that can’t afford health care insurance. What is a deductible? Your insurance deductible is a set amount of money you are required pay toward your medical bills before your insurance company starts paying. These rates vary from plan to plan. Generally, the higher the deductible, the more inexpensive the premiums are. Some plans have no deductible. What is a co-payment? Similar to a deductible, your copayment, or copay, is the flat fee you pay every time you go to the doctor or fill a prescription. It’s important to remember that co-payments s do not count toward your deductible. What is an HMO? When you go with a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) health plan, you pick a single primary care physician. This results in lower costs because all your health care services are handled by a single office. You’ll require a referral from your primary care physician before you can seek the services of another health care professional (except in cases of medical emergencies). What is a PPO? One of the great things about Preferred Payment Organization (PPO) plans is that they provide many options when it comes to choosing who and where you get your healthcare from. A PPO plan lets you get healthcare from any professional you wish, even if they are not a part of your healthcare network. Be advised that there could be additional out-of-pocket costs associated with seeing a healthcare professional that’s not a part of your network and some services may not be covered. What is GAP Insurance? Gap Insurance is designed to help pay the costs your health insurance plan may not cover. Life Insurance What is life insurance? A life insurance policy is a contract you have with an insurance company. In exchange for you regular premium payments, the insurance company agrees to provide a lump-sum settlement payment to your beneficiaries upon the event of your death. Am I required to have life insurance? US citizens are not required to carry life insurance. Why do I need life insurance? You don’t need life insurance – your family and loved ones do. Life insurance is designed to ease the financial burdens of your beneficiaries by providing a settlement – called a death benefit – in the event of your passing. What is a death benefit? The death benefit is the amount of money paid to your beneficiaries in the event of your death. Generally, death benefit payments are income tax-free. What is term life insurance? Term life insurance is the most common and affordable type of life insurance. You pay your scheduled premiums over a specified period of time. In return, the insurance company pays your beneficiaries a one-time death settlement of an amount specified in you policy. Vision Insurance What is vision insurance? Vision insurance plans can reduce your costs for routine preventive eye care examinations as well as prescription eyewear, like eyeglasses and contact lenses. Some vision insurance plans even cover Lasik and other types of corrective surgery. Is vision insurance expensive? Vision insurance is among the most inexpensive type of health insurance on the market. Many employers offer vision insurance as part of a comprehensive health plan. Dental Insurance Do I need dental insurance? Dental insurance is not required by law. Is it a good idea to have dental insurance? Definitely, yes. What types of dental insurance plans are available? Dental insurance plans are similar to health insurance plans. You can select a plan that only lets you see a primary dentist who is a member of a dental healthcare network or a plan that lets you visit whichever dentist you wish, inside or outside your insurance provider’s network. Visitors Insurance What is visitors insurance? The national or government sponsored health plans of other countries usually don’t cover medical emergencies that occur while visiting the US. And medical treatment, especially emergency medical treatment can be expensive. A visitors medical insurance plan is a short term healthcare insurance plan designed to protect you from any medical expenses that may arise during you visit to the US. Who should get visitors insurance? Any one travelling to the United States – students, business travelers, tourists, visiting relatives, etc. – can benefit from a visitors insurance plan. Should I buy Visitors insurance in the US or in my native country? Buying visitors insurance from a company outside the USA may end up costing you more in the long run. A US based insurance company (like the Bamerk Insurance Group agency) will be more familiar with the intricacies of the US Healthcare system allowing them to deliver better support and prompt service to their customers.