Wayne Carter

Supplemental Insurance Plans Could Help Avoid Surprise Medical Bills

Emily Jackson says she had health care through her employer, but medical costs for her and her family were skyrocketing.

"I was never able to pick anything. I was just given what I was given," Jackson said.

Jackson and her husband eventually went into business for themselves, but it was costly to buy health insurance on their own.

The Jacksons talked to a insurance adviser who helped them find savings through insurance designed for small business owners.

"I didn't think we would qualify. I run an online shopping fashion blog," she said. But her small online business was enough for her to qualify.

Jackson said she saved thousands of dollars on health care after she made the switch. Many people could do something similar by taking the time to know what options exist.

Mike Martin sells insurance plans and said most people don't understand their health care policies.

More families look under the hood at their employer's health insurance offerings, he said, and try to find ways to avoid surprise bills that arrive after a doctor's visit or hospital stay.

"There are other supplemental plans you can buy to cover the holes in the plan that aren't covered," Martin said.

For example, if you broke your leg and your primary insurer paid 80 percent of the bill, but you were left with $1,200 to pay, a supplemental plan could drop that number to just $200. A supplemental plan could cost anywhere from $7 to $30 per month.

Emily Jackson said shopping around made a massive difference for her family.

"I have the peace of mind to go about to take care of my family and I didn't have to worry about what bills come up," Jackson said.

Many supplemental plans kick in if something specific happens, like a long-term hospitalization or a serious illness diagnosis. Others work as a secondary policy.

Before signing up for a supplemental insurance plan, it's important to check with your primary insurer and understand how the two policies work together, if at all.

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