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Hassle-Free Health Coverage: Chapter 13 Summary

In the end, politics follows money. And the money in health coverage comes from you -- one premium check, one deductible, one copayment at a time.

The bad news is that Washington lobbyists don't care much about the plight of one individual policyholder. They don't care about your copayments. They probably don't even understand how your copayment works.

The good news is that the decisions you make about health coverage -- indemnity plan versus HMO, add-on coverages versus lower deductible -- ultimately control the larger financial and political issues. One dramatic lawsuit over experimental treatment doesn't affect the insurance market; a thousand families bailing out of an HMO with too few doctors and bad customer service does.

Whether or not you want to think about health insurance, you probably are asked about it on a fairly regular basis.

When you start a new job, you often have a choice of health insurance plans and group disability plans, as well as the option of participating in a cafeteria plan (which can include coverage for dental care, chiropractor's visits and vision care). If your company changes insurance carriers, you may be asked all these questions all over again.

You've probably also been offered insurance coverage by phone (say, from one of your credit card companies), via the mail and even over the Internet. This direct sales approach to marketing insurance of all sorts is becoming more and more common, as insurance companies try to cut costs by eliminating agents -- and their commissions -- from the sales process.

This new approach to insurance sales may make prices more affordable in the long run (or at least keep them level). But it also means that you -- as a consumer buying insurance directly from insurance companies -- have to know more than ever about these policies.

The good news is: After reading this book, you know enough about the coverages you want and need to ask the right questions-and to buy your insurance any way you see fit. This will be something that you find yourself doing more and more as the insurance industry completes its move to a self-service focus.

Good luck.

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