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Insurance tips to prepare for the unexpected

Published On: Jan 16 2013 10:36:42 AM CST
Updated On: Jan 31 2013 01:44:03 PM CST
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(NewsUSA) - Nearly 1.5 million families lose their homes to foreclosure each year because of unpaid medical bills, according to an article published in the Health Matrix: Journal of Law Medicine.

Not all that surprising when you consider that the average cost of a single day's worth of inpatient hospital care is more than $1,600.

"Often enough, health insurance will not cover all of the related expenses in treating certain diseases," explains Polly Galbraith, medical director at Assurant Employee Benefits -- a small-business insurance provider.

To avoid paying more for less coverage, it's essential to compare insurance options. There are, however, some other ways to maximize your insurance spend.

Make the most of your insurance dollars with these tips:

* Understand the benefits and tools available at work. Next time open enrollment rolls around at work, take stock of all the benefits your employer offers. Even if you pay some or all of the premium, you may have access to valuable plans that can help fill gaps in existing coverages. Many carriers provide calculators and other tools that can help determine what plans benefit you the most, and what level of coverage is appropriate.

* Don't forget to protect your income. Most people fail to contemplate what they would do if unable to work and earn a paycheck. Serious illnesses or accidents may not occur with high frequency, but the ramifications can be significant with impacts far beyond your health, like your livelihood. The Council for Disability Awareness provides a helpful educational tool to evaluate your readiness in the event of accident, injury or sickness at www.defendyourincome.org.

* Consider supplemental insurance. Many of your day-to-day expenses are not covered by your health insurance. Things like childcare costs, transportation expenses and lost work time often catch people off guard when their income is unexpectedly disrupted. Medical insurance covers expenses like doctors visits and medicine, but not those day-to-day things that make your life run. Generally, supplemental coverages like critical illness, cancer and accident pay a fixed sum upon the event, which you can use for whatever you want, including those "other" expenses.

* Purchase through work for savings and convenience. When you purchase coverage at work, you benefit from group insurance rates which are typically more affordable. These benefits can come with some level of guaranteed coverage, meaning you do not have to submit medical evidence. Many employers will also collect and remit premiums to the carrier for you, through payroll deduction. Check with other groups you belong to, like labor unions, business organizations, student associations and other special-interest groups, that may also offer coverage at discounted rates.

* Take it with you. Don't forget to look at options that include portability, the ability to take the coverage with you should you leave your job.