Parenting is about risk management. You've probably vaccinated your kids, spent hundreds on car seats, and you stock your fridge with healthy food. Beyond that, you might have taken a hard look at your own safety, dietary habits, and fitness. After all, if something happens to you, what happens to your family?
Accidents and illnesses can happen to anyone, and if it happens to you or your kids, are you confident that your family health plan will have you covered? When you consider all the expenses involved with an extended hospital stay, that confidence might take a hit, and you might start shopping for supplemental hospitalization insurance.
What Is Hospitalization Insurance?
Hospitalization insurance is a supplemental policy purchased independently from your standard health plan. Where traditional health insurance pays your care providers or--after piles of paperwork and hours spent on the phone--reimburses you for expenses, supplemental insurance benefits are paid directly to you within days of your claim so you can use the funds as you see fit.
How Can I Use Hospital Insurance Benefits for Health Care?
Imagine you (or your partner, or your child) are hospitalized for a few days, a week, or even months. Hopefully, your health insurance will cover most of your hospital stay, your procedures, and your medications. It might even cover physical therapy and other expenses after you're released.
Or, it might not. Does your health plan have a cap on coverage? Are you limited to approved health providers when you want to seek treatment from an out-of-network clinic or specialist?
Supplemental hospital insurance will help you pay your deductibles, access your preferred doctors, and increase your options for treatments and procedures not covered by most traditional health plans.
Won't Our Health Insurance Cover Us?
Take a look at your current health plan. Like many Americans, you might have just enough insurance to meet the requirements set forth by the Affordable Care Act. This might mean you'll spend thousands of dollars before your plan pays out a dime. Aside from deductibles, these costs are much higher for those covered by so-called "inexpensive" policies:
• Monthly premiums
• Out-of-network bills
What will happen if, in an accident, you need extensive dental work, or you've injured your eyes? What if you've suffered emotional trauma? Dental, vision and mental health care are among the most common health plan "gaps." There are separate policies for dental insurance and vision insurance, but hospitalization insurance benefits can apply to any of the above so you have the best shot at a full recovery.
Unexpected Costs, Unexpected Benefits
Take some time to visualize how a medical crisis--of any severity or duration--will affect your family budget and routine. What will happen if one of your kids is hospitalized? How will your or your partner's hospitalization change the family dynamic? Even if you're divorced and co-parenting, you and your former spouse depend on each other to provide for your kids.
A hospital insurance cash payout can cover expenses that don't occur to us when we sign up for a health plan, and we rarely think about these costs until we're faced with an emergency. These are only some of the "non-medical" expenses you might experience when you or a loved one is hospitalized:
• Transportation, including ambulance costs
• Hotel stays
• Loss of income
• Mortgage payments
• Pet care and housesitting
• Family counseling
• Therapeutic massage
• Easy-to-prepare meals
• Travel costs for out-of-town supportive friends and family
Because it's paid out in a lump sum, you don't have to justify how you spend your hospitalization insurance benefits. You might choose to invest the cash in your child's education fund, save it for future health complications, or even take your family on vacation to celebrate a turning point in the recovery process. If your personal property or your vehicle suffered damage in a serious accident, you might even use your payout to cover home and auto insurance deductibles.
What's at Stake If We Don't Have Hospital Insurance?
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation recently published a report on the cost of inadequate health coverage, and the effect these costs have on their well-being: "Three in ten (29 percent) Americans report problems paying medical bills...among those reporting problems paying medical bills, seven in ten (73 percent) report cutting back spending on food, clothing, or basic household items."
And this is data collected from families with health insurance coverage.
Now that you have a better sense of the peripheral costs of a hospital stay, ask yourself these questions:
What will prevent us from losing our home? And if we do, how will we cover moving expenses?
What kind of coverage will ensure that our injured or ill loved one will get the care they need?
How will we afford to pay our bills and tuition costs, and keep food on the table?
How will we protect our credit ratings?
What will protect us from dipping into our retirement or education funds when we face unexpected medical bills?
If you can't answer any of these questions with "my current health plan," you might want to consider supplemental hospitalization insurance. You don't want to be among the millions of Americans who decline routine or required treatments, abandon or ration their prescription medications, or are forced to participate in follow-up medical visits due to the expense of deductibles and co-pays.
Live a Confident and Active Life: Have a Backup Plan
With supplemental insurance, you're better insulated against risk. You might not be able to protect your kids from bumps and bruises, serious injury, or illness, but hospitalization insurance is there for your family when the unexpected arises.
Think of supplemental insurance as a savings account set aside for the sole purpose of insulting you, your family, and your other savings commitments from financial distress. Where you might raid your savings for an expensive car repair or a home improvement project, it's unlikely your nest egg will survive a devastating health crisis.
With hospital and accidental injury policies in place, you might feel better about dusting off that adventure sports equipment and bringing your family along for fun. Life's about taking calculated risks, and supplemental insurance lets you manage them with confidence.
Learn more about health insurance and available coverage options that you may be qualified for by talking to a LIG Health Insurance Professional today at 1-866-230-0222. Hours of operations: 9 am – 7 pm EST Monday thru Friday.