Making the most of your health plan
During an interview with AL DÍA, Koleen Cavanaugh, vice president of marketing at Independence, highlighted the importance of health insurance, how the…
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Since 1938, Independence Blue Cross has strived to offer affordable healthcare options to as many residents of the Greater Philadelphia community as possible.
As the leading healthcare provider in the Philadelphia region’s five counties (Philadelphia, Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware, and Chester), millions of people are included within the scope of the company’s mission to build healthier lives for members, employees and the community.
Led by Koleen Cavanaugh, vice president of marketing at Independence Blue Cross, the marketing team implements a multitude of strategies to promote the company’s products. Their robust marketing campaign includes reaching out to current Independence members to help them better understand their insurance plan, as well as creating more awareness about their available products through direct and digital mail, banner and search ads, and doing work in the community to connect with more people and provide them with information on how to enroll.
Whether it’s provided through an employer, directly from Independence, or purchased through the federally facilitated marketplace, Independence works diligently to help individuals and families find the best plans for them.
When asked why having healthcare insurance is important, Cavanaugh answered the question in simple words.
“Health insurance is important because you have to be prepared for the unexpected,” she said. “Anything can happen to any one of us.”
The possibility of something unforeseen potentially happening to an otherwise healthy person—perhaps even while exercising or performing an activity that is good for their health—means that health insurance is essential for any individual, she added.
By having health insurance, consumers are saved from having to pay the full cost for a check-up, emergency room visit, or other medical procedure. That is the reason Independence encourages people to apply for coverage.
“It can also keep you healthy, too,” Cavanaugh explained, adding that one of the biggest values of having health insurance is preventive care coverage. For example, insurance also pays for things like an annual check-up with the doctor, cancer screenings, or flu shots. Doing these things can help to avoid or reduce the chances of developing more serious conditions later on down the line.
“We always say to people when they’re looking for health insurance options, they really have to look at the total cost,” Cavanaugh said.
Ideally, a consumer will choose an insurance plan based on the cost of the plan itself, as well as the services and benefits the plan covers and what it will cost each time a service is used. In most cases, the individual will pay a monthly fixed premium fee that is determined by the type of plan. An additional fee is then paid out-of-pocket for each time they receive care.
With a number of cost-sharing methods available, such as deductibles and co-pays, consumers can assess their options and find the best fit for their budget.
Cavanaugh noted that deciding on a plan is about “finding that right balance” between what to pay for the monthly premium fee and the out-of-pocket costs.
“It’s weighing all those options, understanding what health concerns you may have, and what your expectations are for the care that you’ll need in the coming year,” she added.
Cavanaugh also explained that the insurance industry is changing for consumers.
In 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act bill into law. It was the most significant U.S. healthcare regulatory overhaul expansion bill since Medicare and Medicaid were signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965.
The bill’s three primary goals were to make affordable health insurance options available to nearly everyone, expand the Medicaid program to cover all age-appropriate adults below the federal poverty level, and support innovative methods to lower health care costs in general.
Another big component of the ACA was allowing children to stay on their parents’ health insurance plan until 26 .
“Being able to cover dependents to age 26 increased the number of people who have insurance and were able to stay insured until they could get a job that provides health insurance coverage. So that’s been a huge benefit,” said Cavanaugh.
It also sparked the creation of an organized breakdown of coverage in levels: platinum, gold, silver, bronze, and catastrophic. Each level breaks down the percentage of the total cost a consumer must pay in relation to the amount that is covered by the health insurance carrier.
“That allowed an easy way for consumers to understand how much of the cost they are going to be responsible for when they go to receive care,” Cavanaugh said.
A higher premium cost equals a lower out-of-pocket cost, and vice versa.
Some other things that came out of the ACA are a benefits and coverage summary that lays out the essential benefits of each individual plan; as well as coverage that includes maternity, mental health, substance abuse, prescription drugs, and other components.
With the largest provider network in the Philadelphia region, Independence provides members with access to doctors from across the region.
More than 200,000 individual consumers enrolled with Independence in the 2018 ACA open enrollment period. Having healthcare insurance gives consumers the opportunity to save money and receive needed services at any given time.
“We encourage people to really do their homework and make sure that they get a plan that they can afford, they can use, and has the providers that they are comfortable using,” said Cavanaugh.
Helping people live longer and healthier lives was Independence Blue Cross’ mission when first established 80 years ago, and Cavanaugh and her colleagues are working to ensure that mission remains at the core of their work for many more years and decades to come.