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How to Break the Health Insurance-Stress Cycle

How to Break the Health Insurance-Stress Cycle

The plot of the TV series Breaking Bad hinged on the premise that overwhelming stress caused by out-of-pocket costs for cancer treatment could turn a mild-mannered high school chemistry teacher into a drug kingpin. When it premiered in 2006 that scenario didn’t sound so far-fetched.

Before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) came online in 2013, 62% of personal bankruptcies were due to unpaid medical bills -- even though three-quarters of those folks had health insurance. Insurance polices had caps on their lifetime payouts, high co-payments on hospital bills and could refuse coverage for pre-existing conditions.

So it’s great that 20 million people now have health insurance or have enrolled in new insurance under the ACA -- and are free of those worries. But folks are still wrangling with their coverage as premiums go up, deductibles increase and choices become more limited. That causes a lot of  stress -- which is related to depression, high blood pressure and even cancer. So here’s how to dial down your health-insurance stress level.

Get the facts: Call your state health insurance hotline and/or make an appointment with your HR department. Compare plans’ deductibles, in-network and out-of-network doctors, co-pays and added options like dental, eye glass prescriptions, physical therapy, etc.

Manage medical debt (if you have it): Propose a payment plan to your hospital or provider that you can handle. They’re glad to work with you.

Now we hope you’ll be able to focus on becoming and staying as healthy as possible -- and using your health insurance for wellness visits not health scares.

Medically reviewed in March 2020.

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