BISMARCK, N.D.-According to the World Health Organization, the current outbreak of Influenza A (H1N1), more commonly called swine flu, has a "strong signal that a pandemic is imminent." In response, the government has declared a public health emergency in the United States. North Dakota Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm encourages North Dakotans to review their insurance policies in preparation of any possible occurrences.
"It's always important to understand your health insurance policy, but with the potential for an increased demand for health care services, you need to be even more aware of your plan details," Hamm said.
Take a few minutes and answer these questions:
• Does your policy require a pre-authorization for hospital admission or other services?
• What is your co-payment for the most common H1N1 treatments, Tamiflu and Relenza? Companies have been updating coverage options for flu treatment, so be sure to ask your company about these specific medications.
Get prepared with the following checklist:
• Have your health insurance ID card handy.
• Review your health insurance policy provisions. Know which doctors and hospitals are in your network.
• Make note of your co-payments. Know how much a doctor's office visit will cost. Check to see if your co-payments go up if you go out-of-network.
• Keep handy a list of pharmacies and medications covered by your health insurance policy.
Hamm added that the Insurance Department is surveying health insurance companies doing business in North Dakota to gather details on how they're handling H1N1 flu claims. "We are gathering information on how health insurance companies cover routine treatments and other special medications that may be needed if this flu hits North Dakota," he said.
For more information, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control web site at www.cdc.gov/swineflu/. Pandemic flu planning checklists for individuals can be downloaded here: www.pandemicflu.gov/plan/pdf/individuals.pdf.
Beware of insurance fraud during this time of heightened awareness. If you believe you have been a victim of insurance fraud or have any questions, contact the North Dakota Insurance Department at 1-800-247-0560 firstname.lastname@example.org.