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Congress has seen a renewed interest in the market for private health insurance since the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). This book provides an overview of private-sector (as opposed to government-provided) health insurance. It serves as an introduction to health insurance from the point of view of many consumers under the age of 65. Furthermore, the book provides background information about modifying or building on the current health insurance system; discusses how understanding the potential impact of such proposals requires a working knowledge of how health insurance is provided, purchased, and regulated; and describes various ACA provisions that affect the private insurance market.
Statistics published by the U. S. Department of Commerce (1980) indicate that in 1977 we spent 8. 1% of our gross national product (GNP) on life, health, property-casualty, and other forms of insurance. An additional 5. 7% was used to pay the Social Security tax, which is another form of insurance premium, for a total of 14. 8% of the GNP. Although insurance had its historical origin in marine insurance, it has now developed into one of the major industries of the American economy and extends into many areas of economic activity. One area where growth has been particularly strong is the medical sector. Health insurance is a major institution in all industrialized countries. It became a government responsibility in 1883 when Bismarck intro- duced a compulsory program of health insurance for industrial workers in Germany. Programs for workers in various industrial and income categories soon followed in other European countries-Austria (1888), Hungary (1891), Norway (1909), Servia (1910), Great Britain (1911), and Russia and Romania (1912) (Rubinow, 1913:250). Programs in these countries were extended in subsequent years, and other countries in Europe followed with their own programs. Consequently, today most industrial countries have universal or near-universal health insurance coverage. In the United States the issue of national health insurance has been seriously debated since just prior to World War I, and polling data since the 1930s show that a substantial majority of the public has been supportive of such a program (Erskine, 1975).
A comprehensive guide designed to help consumers understand the American health insurance system so that they can obtain the benefits to which they are entitled. Epstein explains the ins and outs of both new and traditional health insurance plans, including traditional individual and group policies, HMOs and other types of managed care plans, self-funded plans, Medicare, Medicare HMOs, Medigap, long-term care, COBRA, CHAMPUS, and Medical Savings Accounts.
Written by a nationally syndicated columnist, this useful volume also deals with special health insurance issues related to children, adults with special needs, and individuals who may need long-term care. In addition, Epstein provides valuable information for individuals who are in the process of changing jobs or making changes in their marital or family status, choosing a health insurance plan, or arranging long-term care-including placement in a nursing home or an assisted-living facility-for an aging parent. The book has a practical focus with a variety of tables and worksheets to help consumers establish a system for preventing health insurance problems, and for dealing with any health insurance problems that may arise. It also contains answers to common questions about health insurance, and provides a list of organizations that offer detailed information and advice in regard to specific health insurance problems.
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