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When I was at a friend’s house recently, his parents were in the process of choosing a health plan because his mother had just gotten a new job, and they were finally going to have health insurance through her employer. There were several plans to choose from, and all of them looked similar, except that one had a significantly lower deductible. None of us could figure out why that would be, but obviously, he and his parents were ready to choose that option because the lower deductible made it much cheaper. At the very bottom of the page, however, I noticed the row listing the annual benefit limit for each option. For the plan with the lower deductible, the annual benefit limit, or the amount up to which insurance will pay per year, was only $30,000. That amount sounds like a fair amount of money for a healthy family, but I knew from my work here at the Project, that one surgery or emergency could easily use up that amount. I mentioned that to them, and after a lot of discussion and googling the price of various emergency surgeries, they decided to go with one of the options with a higher annual benefit limit. I was glad I was able to help them, but it also made me realize how difficult navigating the world of health insurance is, especially for those who have it for the first time or who come from countries with nationalized health care. Medical care costs more than most people realize, and health insurance plans and their terminology can be confusing, which often leaves people feeling lost when they make decisions concerning their health insurance.
Sabina Klein, CTHPP Fellow