How COPD Patients Can Pick the Right ACA Health Plan

Patients with chronic conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, often have high-cost health needs that make choosing a health plan difficult.

Patients with chronic conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), often have high-cost health needs that make choosing a health plan difficult. A new infographic from the American Lung Association (ALA) can guide patients with COPD through the process of choosing a health plan through the Affordable Care Act (ACA)’s exchanges.

Harold P. Wimmer, national president and CEO of the American Lung Association (ALA), explained that patients with chronic diseases may not be aware of what their out-of-pocket costs will be, and as a result are not selecting the best health insurance for their individual circumstances.

"There is a lot to consider when choosing a health plan," Wimmer said in a statement. "Through this resource, we hope to help consumers better understand how to make the best choice, and pick a plan that is likely to result in the lowest out-of-pocket costs to the patient."

He added that having access to care doesn’t mean patients with COPD will necessarily be able to afford it. These patients need to keep in mind premium, deductible, and co-payments, as well as any other factors that can affect their yearly out-of-pocket costs. In addition, the ALA reminds COPD patients to check plans’ coverage for doctors and specialists, hospitals and medications.

As patients with COPD who have high-cost health needs choose their health plans—with the deadline January 31, 2016—they should keep in mind that they are likely to reach the maximum out of pocket expenses, which they can add to premiums to estimate their total yearly costs.

"This is important information because we know patients may put off care to avoid co-payments or other out-of-pocket expenses that may lead to worse health outcomes," Wimmer said. "Without this analysis, patients may not be able to accurately estimate their costs and utilization of healthcare services to pick the best plan for their circumstances."