health Insurance Article

Essential Health Insurance Riders for Childhood Through Adulthood

It’s not engrossing material—certainly not a Steve Patterson book or a book from the 50 Shades of Grey series– but learning the best options for your health care coverage could save you a lot of money in the future. The discussion is necessary since the average American family cannot afford to pay out of pocket for any kind of urgent medical services unless they have some health care coverage shouldering some of the costs.

To this end, it’s important to understand what the five most essential options are that should be included on the typical family’s health care plan.

For now, until healthcare reform goes into full effect in 2014, a rider can either be an additional coverage that provides more options to an individual’s health insurance policy, or it can be an exclusionary rider that provides protection to the insurer against pre-existing conditions. Keep this in mind when reading the fine print before signing up with any insurance policy. If a health insurance policy has more exclusionary riders than anything else, it stands to reason that it won’t cover much at all.

Young Women and Couples

The riders that would be most important often are dependent on what stage of life a health insurance shopper is in. For example, a young couple or single woman under 35 might want to include a maternity rider so that if she becomes pregnant, her care would be provided under the health care plan. Without this rider, costs for obstetrics, childbirth, and immediate care after the child is born can run into the tens of thousands.

Accidental Death and Dismemberment riders are important for every stage of life because, obviously, no one plans on having an accident, dying young, or having an appendage accidentally removed. However, it can be most devastating in terms of medical costs and impact on the ability to earn a living.

Cancer riders should be considered at this early stage because they will be much more expensive later. Women should be particularly mindful of getting this coverage because breast cancer is the second leading cause of death relating to cancer, and the chance of getting it is 1 out of every 8 women in a lifetime.

Growing Family

For a young family, many riders would be relevant. It more depends on the income available to use for purchasing health insurance that would be the defining factor. Riders like dental, orthodontics, and prescription riders would be most helpful with growing children.

It’s also important for parents who contribute greatly to the family income to have long-term disability riders in case there is something that happens to prevent them from working and earning a living. Short-term disability is also important for this age group if there is an illness that prevents a wage earner from working for six months but is likely to recover in that time period.

Long-term care insurance riders should also be considered because young parents can still get affordable rates at this stage of life. Long-term care could be needed at any age, even though it is mostly associated with the elderly in nursing homes. More and more doctors and hospitals are moving therapeutic and rehabilitative services to nursing home or long-term care homes rather than doing it in the hospital environment. While long-term care is costly, it is less costly than having these provisions done in the hospital. What makes it additionally important is the fact that Medicare often doesn’t cover much of the expenses of long term care, and instead of paying out of pocket, cashing in life insurance, or hoping a supplementary policy will bridge the gap is neither realistic or always the best option.

Empty Nesters

This group may find it especially hard to get health insurance that is affordable if they aren’t already covered on a group plan through an employer. They are far more likely to have a major health issue or looming in the near future, but they are too young to apply for Medicare, which starts at age 65. When a health care package is obtained, it’s vital for this group to seek out riders for nursing home care and long-term hospitalization. Many health care plans will cover a few days in the hospital, but older people could end up in the hospital more often and for longer periods of time.

Long-term care is another essential rider if they don’t have it already. Waiting any later and the long-term care rider will be exorbitantly expensive. As previously mentioned, it’s a better idea to get it when you’re younger to lock in cheaper rates, but if you missed that opportunity, it’s still an essential rider to consider.

Retirees

This age group is more likely to have Medicare coverage in which there is many different options to choose from. Medicare Advantage is a rider for major medical health insurance companies and will help cover inpatient and outpatient care. There is also a Medicare Advantage rider option that includes prescription coverage. Many Medicare Advantage riders are supplied by government agencies, but some employers will have a Medicare Advantage rider available if an employee reaches age 65 or when they retire.

When choosing a health care plan, look over all the options carefully and consider each one before eliminating it or choosing it. Some might be seemingly expensive when considering the monthly premium, but in comparison to the costs you might incur without the rider and paying for the service out-of-pocket, it might be worth the cost to protect against the risk. Like with any insurance, it is a benefit of protection when peace of mind is better than taking a risk and not having coverage for many of the “unexpected” (but statistically relevant) life events that can occur.

Follow Desiree on Twitter @DesireeBaughman.

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