Will your health plan fully cover you?

LOS ANGELES Susan Braig of Altadena is a talented jewelry maker, but she is also thousands of dollars in debt. She has a stack of medical bills after she was diagnosed and treated for stage two breast cancer, and then found out her health insurance would not cover all of her treatments.

"I found out it didn't cover the MRI or exams or the radiologist or radio-oncologist ... or any of the prescriptions or blood tests or anything," said Susan.

When Susan was younger, healthier and not making a lot of money, she bought an inexpensive, basic health insurance policy. She thought it would cover any catastrophe, but it didn't.

"I was afraid to get a really good comprehensive policy because I was afraid that if I couldn't pay for it, I would be dropped from the plan," said Susan. "And if I ever had a pre-existing condition I would never qualify for another one."

At least one in five people in America are in the same insurance shape as Susan. They don't have adequate insurance and may not know it until it's too late.

According to Jerry Flanagan of /*Consumer Watchdog*/, it may not be all the consumer's fault.

"The fine print is incredibly technical and you have to believe that insurance companies know that. They know that people aren't going to see until after the fact. I'm sure it's part of their plan," said Flanagan.

Many clients read only the highlights of an insurance policy assuming even inexpensive health insurance will do the job.

"In order to understand the value of the insurance you are buying you have to know what's also covered in detail," said Flanagan.

Here are some tips to find the best plan for you:

  • Get quotes from many insurance companies
  • Look at their various policies
  • Obtain a copy of the policy before you buy
  • Look at the premium, the deductibles and exclusions

"When a person has a health problem they shouldn't have to be on the phone negotiating rates and worried if they are covered or not," said Susan.

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