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The Importance of Being Informed About Healthcare

Clare Levison



I was watching the morning news recently when a story about ‘N Sync sending out a political Tweet caught my attention. I instantly became poised to delete them from my playlist. I really get tired of hearing political commentary from celebrities. It’s not that I don’t think they’re entitled to their opinion, they certainly are. Most of time, I’m just not interested in hearing it.

Generally speaking, I think actors should act, singers should sing, and the girl from those Progressive commercials should keep coming up with quirky ways to get me to buy car insurance. But before I could eradicate the boy band from my music lineup, the newscaster read the Tweet.

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This is what it said, “Love, hate, or just confused by it -learn all you can about the Affordable Care Act which starts enrolling tomorrow!”

Honestly, I couldn’t have said it better myself. Perhaps ‘N Sync meant that as a political statement, but I took it as a shout-out for financial literacy, and that’s something I can support wholeheartedly. At a time when Miley Cyrus is promoting twerking, Kanye West is promoting the fad drug Molly, and the Kardashians are promoting themselves, I certainly can’t fault ‘N Sync for promoting financial education. In fact, I applaud them.

Healthcare can be a large part of a family budget and, according to a recent survey by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, a majority of the American population is vastly undereducated about even the basics of it. The telephone survey of 1,008 U.S. adults conducted at the end of July found that more than half of the people surveyed could not accurately identify at least one of three common health insurance terms: premium, deductible and copay.

In addition, 41 percent said they are not at all knowledgeable about the Affordable Care Act, which will require individuals to buy health insurance or pay a penalty beginning next year.

So, what can you do to become in-the-know about healthcare and its financial implications for you and your family? Here are a few tips.

1. Educate yourself on the Affordable Care Act.

Whether or not you currently have health insurance, study up on what has become commonly known as Obamacare. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation has excellent information on its website about health reform, including the video “The YouTunes Get Ready for Obamacare,” which provides a simple and easy-to-follow explanation of the basic changes in health insurance as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

2. Read your benefits booklet and familiarize yourself with key health insurance terms.

If you have health insurance, you should read your benefits guide. It may not be the most exciting reading material, but it will provide you with lots of useful information about all the specifics of your coverage. In addition, make sure you understand the basic healthcare definitions of commonly used terms, such as a premium, a deductible, a copay and coinsurance.

3. Use all of this information to make the best health care coverage decisions for you and your family.

Take into consideration your current health condition as well as any changes that you can already anticipate, for example a pregnancy or an upcoming surgery. Then compare policy premiums, deductibles, and other fees to determine what your best policy option is, coverage-wise and financially. Your goal is to be neither over- or under-insured.

Healthcare reform has sparked a huge debate in our country, but healthcare education shouldn’t be debatable. The more informed you are the better positioned you are to make good decisions. Do your homework so you can be a smart health insurance consumer.

Clare K. Levison is a certified public accountant and author of Frugal Isn’t Cheap: Spend Less, Save More, and Live Better.

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