A Little on the Side…Or Not? Your Guide to Supplemental Insurance

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Have you ever experienced something you didn’t expect?

It might have been something good, like bumping into an old friend on vacation or being taken to a surprise party.

Or it could have been something not so favorable: a car accident, the loss of a job, a sudden illness…

The world is an unpredictable place. Each new day brings its own surprises – both good and bad.

We can’t plan for those surprises, but we can protect ourselves. In 2017, Americans spent $1.2 trillion on health insurance premiums. Having a good health insurance plan can protect you in the event of an unforeseen injury or illness.

But it’s not always enough. Some people go to make a claim only to find that it isn’t covered. Others can afford to make their monthly premiums, but when they need medical assistance, they can’t afford to pay their copays.

Even with health insurance, medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy in the US.

Supplemental insurance may help cover those costs so you don’t need to add a financial emergency along to your medical emergency.

What Is Supplemental Insurance?

As the name might suggest, supplemental insurance is a type of insurance that supplements your existing healthcare coverage.

There is a wide variety of health insurance plans, but most plans give you a choice between a low monthly premium and a high deductible or a high monthly payment with a low deductible.

Most people choose to go with a low monthly premium-especially if they’re generally in good health. But since 61% of Americans don’t have enough savings to cover a $1,000 emergency, that high deductible could ruin them.

Supplemental insurance is a separate health insurance policy that can be used to cover additional expenses that you may be unable to cover on your own.

You might use it to pay for a deductible, copays, or care that your regular insurance does not cover.

Some supplemental insurance companies will even cover lost wages for time off due to illness.

Supplemental insurance carries its own monthly premium. However, this premium is often lower than the difference between your current insurance plan and a plan that would cover everything else you need.

Types of Supplemental Insurance:

Just like every health insurance plan is different, there are several different kinds of supplemental insurance. You can mix and match these plans as needed.

Dental Insurance:

Dental Insurance

It’s likely that you already have supplemental insurance without realizing it.

Most health insurance plans do not cover dental work. And since regular visits to the dentist are an important way to fight dental problems, that could leave you on the hook for expensive out of pocket costs.

To cover your dental care costs, you must have a supplemental plan.

This supplemental is often provided in your benefits package from your employer without you even realizing it. If you manage your own insurance, your primary insurance provider may offer a separate plan to cover these.

Vision Insurance:

Like dental insurance, vision care is not typically covered by most health insurance policies.

And that’s bad news considering that 75% of Americans need some kind of vision correction.

While you could always see an optician at the cheap eye clinic in the strip mall, that’s a poor substitute for regular appointments with an optometrist or ophthalmologist.

An optician can also miss other serious problems that an optometrist or ophthalmologist would catch.

Supplementing your medical insurance with vision insurance can keep your vision care expenses from running through the roof.

Medigap:

Medicare is a state-run insurance program that covers citizens over 65 or certain individuals with disabilities. It is funded through taxes, so recipients do not pay a monthly premium.

Many people depend on Medicare to cover the cost of their ongoing healthcare. But it doesn’t cover everything.

Medigap plans can help cover out-of-pocket expenses or necessary care that is not covered by Medicare.

Travel Insurance:

Travel Insurance

If you’re traveling away from home and you are injured or become ill, you may not be able to find any healthcare providers within your network.

Purchasing supplemental travel insurance before you travel is a good way you can stay covered if the worst should happen.

Critical Illness Insurance:

While insurance exists to cover unforeseen costs that you cannot afford, every insurance plan has an annual limit or a cap on how much they will cover. If you reach that cap, you must pay for any costs beyond that.

If you become seriously ill, it can be easy to reach the cap in a hurry.

Supplemental critical illness insurance is used to cover expenses beyond your insurance policy’s annual limit.

Do I Need It?

You might be reading this thinking, “this is all well and good, but do I actually need supplemental insurance?”

  • Can you afford to pay your entire deductible?
  • Can you pay for out-of-pocket expenses like copays and prescriptions?
  • Can you afford to pay for additional care out of pocket?

Are you at risk of reaching your policy’s annual limit?

If you answered “yes” to most of those questions, then you might not need supplemental insurance. If you have a savings account that you can dip into to cover extra costs, you can skip it and pay less per month.

However, if you do not have a lot saved up, paying a few dollars more per month for supplemental insurance could save you if you suffer a health crisis.

Take a look at your financial situation, your current health insurance, and your overall health and make an informed decision.

Protect Yourself:

Supplemental insurance is a great way to protect yourself from uncovered medical expenses.

But as the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You can help prevent runaway medical costs by taking care of your health.

For more articles about how you can stay healthy, visit the health & fitness section of our blog!

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