Brace yourselves for a wild ride in 2011 when it comes to your health care plan.  Since President Obama signed the new health reform bill in March of 2010, carriers and State Departments of Insurance have been scrambling to comply while balancing their bottom lines.

As a result, we consumers are going to see more and more consumer-driven plans.  These new plans will help lower premiums, but can also bring higher deductibles, coinsurance, additional co-payments and the loss of some benefits.  Prescription plans have also undergone some renovations.

To be fair, there are a few new perks.  If your 26 year old is still living at home, they can have continued coverage on your plan and there are now no limits on coinsurance maximums.  In addition, there are no co-payments for some preventive care and no denial of benefits for children under 19 with pre-existing conditions. 

In New York State where many businesses relied on HMO plans for their employees’ health care coverage, most carriers have informed us that these prized plans will no longer be available.  For those carriers who have kept these plans, the premium rates have significantly increased from 2010.   

Personally, our HMO health insurance plan that we have been on for the last 20 years was discontinued and replaced by an EPO plan with a different carrier.  Even though it was surprising and will require some adjustments on our part, I have learned that it may not be a bad thing after all.  I have already checked and all of our doctors still participate with this carrier and will accept our plan.  Also, our new carrier now offers a nationwide network of coverage which may be of some help if we spend time this year at our home in Arizona. 

It will be a wild ride as we all make adjustments to our new plans and benefits in 2011, but in the long run, these changes might make us more responsible with our health care costs or at least that’s what the politicians are hoping.