Health Care Issues: What’s Got You Losing Sleep?

Health care has topped the list of issues Americans are most concerned about five years in a row in an annual Gallup poll, and turmoil in the nation’s capital seems likely to keep it a concern.

Here’s a quick look at what’s really up with some of the top concerns, which might allow you to catch more shuteye.

ACA confusion

Despite a U.S. district judge’s decision in December that the entire Affordable Care Act is invalid, the act and all of the health care benefits it brings to Americans is intact. Lawyers are expected to fight this case through the court levels, likely all the way to the Supreme Court. The wheels of appeals tend to move slowly on these issues. So this doesn’t affect your health care coverage at all this year.

One thing that has changed is a rule that allows short-term health insurance policies to last almost a year. They charge lower premiums, but that’s because they cover less.

Health care in retirement

Another worry causing sleepless nights for nearly half of middle-aged people is how they’ll afford health care in retirement, according to a new National Poll on Healthy Aging.

Health insurance protects not only your good health but your wallet, too. Older Americans tend to need more health care services, which can mean more out-of-pocket expenses depending on whether you have health insurance and how comprehensive it is.

The poll found one out of five people decided to stay in a job, rather than retiring or seeking other employment, just to keep employer-provided health insurance.

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), age and health conditions cannot be used to reject you for individual coverage. Plus, the ACA limits premiums for older applicants to three times as much as premiums for younger applicants. The federal government has a website full of ACA/retiree-related information.

When you turn 65, you will be eligible for Medicare. That covers many, but not all, medical expenses, but other policies are available to fill the gap.

Fear of the unknown

Perhaps a bigger problem uncovered in the national poll is that one in five respondents said they didn’t think they could understand insurance terms. One in four said they didn’t know how to find out what their insurance plan would cover or what their out-of-pocket expenses would be.

Your health insurer provides that information online and by phone—contact information is usually on the back of your insurance card. Call or go online and ask those questions.

There’s no reason to stay in the dark. Being an informed consumer can improve your health and help put to rest some of the health care worries keeping you up at night.