A new term in health insurance with which you should probably familiarize yourself is "grandfathering." Understanding what it means and how it could affect you is important, particularly as it relates to individual health insurance. In fact, because I specialize in individual (as opposed to group, i.e. employer-based) health insurance, I'm not even going to address its implications for group coverage.

Do you remember when Pres. Obama kept emphasizing that if you liked your current health insurance and wanted to keep that coverage, that would be fine and you could do that under health care reform? Well, that's where the concept of grandfathering of health plans began.

A plan that was in place as of the day Obama signed the Health Care Reform (HCR) bill, March 23, 2010, is a "grandfathered" plan. If you had a health plan in place on that day, as long as you keep that plan, with absolutely NO changes, that plan will not be subject to all the requirements of HCR.

All the mandated benefits under HCR will not be cheap. Non-grandfathered plans will very likely become more expensive more quickly than grandfathered plans. Yes, HCR plans may have access to some things (like "free" preventive care services that are not free under grandfathered plans), but there is no such thing as free, as we all know. 

The important thing to take away from all of this is to think carefully about all the possible ramifications of changing your plan if you had it in place on March 23rd. Does this mean no one should change plans? Absolutely not. But it IS important to consider the benefits of making a change against the potential future costs. The unfortunate part is that we can't predict just what those costs will be.