Inexpensive (and Lousy) Health Insurance

An estimated 49 million Americans don't have any health insurance, but even more startling are the discoveries of a Consumer Reports' Investigation. It found many people who've purchased their own insurance are not as protected as they think.

Find yourself in an emergency room and you might find out you have "junk insurance."

Consumer Reports finds all too many people are falling victim to hazardous health plans.

It's not until people get sick that they discover the problem.

"The policies are like Swiss Cheese. And the way they're written, it's really hard to spot the gaps." said Consumer Reports' Nancy Metcalf. "Even the insurance expert we hired to help us with this project had a hard time deciphering some of them."

Metcalf says the buzzword on many junk policies is "affordable."

"Many big-name insurance companies are offering these. They look like a good deal because the premiums are low-but they're low for a reason." said Metcalf. "They are so riddled with loopholes, limits, and exclusions that they will not come close to covering your expenses if you ever fall seriously ill."

Consumer Reports says here's how to avoid junk health-insurance policies.

First, never buy a policy labeled "limited benefit" or "not major medical insurance."

Next, don't leave out a category of care because you "never use it."

You may not use it now, but you could desperately need it in six months.

Finally, don't take a salesperson's word for anything. Always read the fine print, which will help you avoid low-cost coverage that comes with a high price tag.

Consumer Reports says that in addition to the incomprehensible language so-called "affordable" health-care plans use, people buying them often have no idea how high medical costs can go.

For example, treating cancer can easily run upward of six figures, far short of what these policies provide.

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