Buying health care insurance in the U.S. is confusing, with different insurance carriers, a dizzying array of different types of coverage and a variety of ways that employees paid for a portion of their costs (such as deductibles, copayments, and out-of-pocket maximums). With the rollout of Obamacare, newspapers and blogs are full of discussions about how confusing the choices are and how difficult it is to select a plan.
Well, the truth is that buying health insurance has been confusing for many years, but employers sheltered employees (and, in many cases, retirees) from this confusing mess:
- Employers once provided health insurance to employees, spouses and dependents. They took responsibility to determine benefit plan design from the alphabet soup of HMOs, PPOs, POS plans, and EPOs.
- Insurance carriers were selected.
- Employers also paid for most (if not all) of the cost of the insurance.
- Many employers also provided retiree medical benefits for life to retirees (and spouses).
As employers offer health care to fewer employees and retirees, more Americans are forced to make decisions and deal with this confusing mess. Read the rest of this entry »