With the wide variety of health insurance plans available, choosing the lowest cost option should not be the only factor influencing your decision. Instead, you should look for a plan that fits the needs of you and your family. After selecting a plan, there are ways to save on your health insurance costs. Here are 10 ways to save on health insurance.
1. Compare Multiple Health Insurance Quotes Online
When comparing plans be sure to evaluate the benefits as well as the monthly premium. Make sure your plan provides adequate catastrophic coverage, with preferably at least a $2 million lifetime maximum benefit.
2. Raise Your Deductible
The higher your deductible, the lower your monthly premium. Keep in mind, you will be responsible for medical bills out of your own pocket until this deductible is reached. However, there are plans that will waive the deductible for office visits, preventative care, prescription drugs, or accidental injuries.
3. Factor in Co-Insurance
Co-insurance is the amount the insurance company will pay after you meet your deductible. Most companies will pay 80% of the medical bill after the deductible up to an annual maximum of typically $5,000 to $10,000. Medical bills in excess of this annual maximum will be covered at 100% by the insurance company. Some companies offer 50% co-insurance plans which may lower the monthly premium. But if you visit your doctor frequently, the policy may actually cost you more in the long run.
4. Make Sure the Policy Covers the Doctors you Need
Most plans contract with a network of “preferred providers.” These “PPO” plans pay more of the medical cost if you use the services of doctors within this network. If go to a doctor or hospital outside the network, the insurance company may cover only part of the bill.
5. Consider Separate Policies for Individual Family Members
Age plays a role in determining how much a policy costs, and it may be more affordable to purchase separate health insurance plans for your family members. You might save if the older members of your family purchase their own policies. Or get health insurance coverage for children 18 and under.
6. Coverage Offered Through an Employer
Employers providing health care benefits will pay all or part of the premium for the employee but often do not contribute toward dependents. Adding your dependents to your employer plan may be the responsibility of the employee and can be expensive. If your dependents are relatively healthy, you may save money by purchasing an individual or family policy separate from the employer’s plan.
7. COBRA Alternatives
COBRA is a continuation of an employer-sponsored plan for a former employee where the premiums are usually paid entirely by the participant. If the COBRA participant is relatively healthy, they can usually save money by purchasing an individual policy instead of accepting the COBRA plan. Keep in mind that the insurance company may refuse to provide coverage based on past health history. Therefore, those with serious health issues or expenses should stay with their COBRA option or enter their state’s high risk pool.
8. Consider an HSA-Compatible High-Deductible Health Plan
An HSA (Health Savings Account) allows you to set aside money in a tax-sheltered, interest-earning account that you can draw on to pay most medical expenses. Because it works with a high-deductible health plan, you pay less premiums than you would with a more comprehensive health plan. In addition, the savings you accrue minimize the risk of not being able to cover unexpected medical bills.
9. Minimize your Chances of Being Denied Coverage by the Insurance Company
Most states offer high risk pools for those unable to obtain health insurance from the traditional carriers due to serious health issues such as AIDS, cancer, major heart disease, diabetes, or other chronic conditions. These high risk plans can be expensive. Therefore, it is beneficial to qualify for the plans offered by the insurance companies if possible. Rejection rates can be as high as 60% and often individuals without serious issues could have been approved had they provided an adequate explanation of past medical history. For example, be sure to explain clearly when a condition has been resolved and requires no further treatment or medication.
10. Government Assistance Health Programs
Obviously, those at or below the poverty level may have access to government assistance, but many people are unaware that some states offer programs for those above the poverty level as well. Usually, this assistance is in the form of a subsidy that will pay part of the premiums for traditional health insurance. Contact your state’s insurance department for details.