Many Americans are afraid of getting sick or injured – but it isn’t the pain they’re worried about. It’s the damage to their bank accounts. Even with health insurance, unexpected medical bills can lead to financial trouble. For anyone living on a budget, this is a serious problem. Luckily, for eligible military retirees and their families, there’s a simple solution – TRICARE Supplement.
How Medical Bills Take a Bite out of Budgets
The average health insurance policy leaves people with a number of out-of-pocket expenses:
- Cost share: The costs that are not covered by your insurer and that you pay out of pocket.
- Premium or enrollment fee: This is the amount people pay to obtain insurance. It is paid regardless of whether or how much the insurance is used.
- Deductible: This is the amount people have to pay out-of-pocket for services and prescriptions before their insurer will start paying. For example, if your policy has a deductible of $500, you’ll have to pay $500 out of pocket before your insurer starts paying its share, although some services may be covered before then.
- Co-pay: This is the amount people have to pay out-of-pocket for services and prescriptions. For example, if you have a $30 co-pay for office visits, you pay $30 each time you see the doctor.
- Out-of-pocket maximum: This is the most you can pay out of pocket during the coverage period. For example, if you have an annual out-of-pocket maximum of $3,500, you could pay $3,500 out of pocket during the year.
- Non-network: You can receive care from a non-network provider, but depending on your plan, you may be charged higher co-pays or additional bills if you do so.
All these costs can add up fast. According to Kaiser Health Tracking Polls, 34 percent of adults with health insurance say they have a hard time affording their deductible, and 29 percent say they have trouble paying medical bills. In many cases, families have to reduce their spending on essential items like food in order to cover their medical expenses.
For many Americans, the financial fallout caused by medical bills is serious. According to a report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, medical debt is the most common reason people are contacted by debt collectors over past-due bills. This is true for people regardless of their income level, credit score or age – medical debt can affect anyone.
Medical debt is also a leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States.
How TRICARE Supplement Can Help
TRICARE is the health insurance system of the United States military. TRICARE Supplement is designed to wrap around the core TRICARE health insurance plans. Eligible individuals can enroll in TRICARE Supplement if they are enrolled in any of the numerous TRICARE plans and are not on active duty or eligible for Medicare.
TRICARE Supplement helps cover out-of-pocket expenses associated with an enrollee's baseline TRICARE plan. For families worried about unexpected medical bills, this provides a number of advantages:
- The out-of-pocket maximum is kept low. When combined with TRICARE Select, for example, after the TRICARE Supplement deductible is met, TRICARE Supplement covers all co-pays, meaning families only have to pay the enrollment fee and deductible.
- The costs are predictable. Because co-pays are covered after deductibles, families don’t have to worry about the medical costs associated with unexpected injuries and illnesses. Once they budget for the enrollment fee and deductibles, they can rest assured that they have everything covered.
- Non-network providers are covered. This helps families see the doctors they want to see without receiving extra costs.
- Pre-existing conditions are covered. After an initial six-month period, all pre-existing conditions are covered after deductibles are met.
- The plan is portable. This means that even if you receive TRICARE Supplement through your employer, you don’t have to worry about losing coverage if you leave your job.
Learn more about our TRICARE Supplement insurance policy.