With health care costs skyrocketing, the cost of health insurance premiums is increasing as well. However, health insurance is a must when considering the costs of an emergency room visit, surgery to repair a broken bone, scans, the lab, and other costs. When your budget is tight, how can you keep your health insurance premium costs low? There are several steps you can take to lower your health insurance costs and still maintain adequate health coverage when you need it.
The first step is to consider what health insurance options you have. Does your employer offer a group medical benefit? Many employers (and / or unions) offer health benefits to full-time employees. Group health insurance is often the cheapest way to get health coverage; an employer can negotiate with health insurance companies for a group health plan at lower rates. Also, many employers will pay part of the premium, further reducing the cost of your health insurance. Another consideration is whether your spouse has health coverage available through their employer. If so, compare your health benefits plan with your spouse’s and decide which health plan is the best option. One spouse may have family health insurance coverage and the other spouse may no longer receive their medical benefits. Many employers have multiple health insurance options, so check out these plans as well. Choose the health plan that best suits your needs at the lowest price.
If there is no health insurance coverage available through your employer, there are other ways to obtain health insurance coverage. Individual and family private health insurance policies are available. Shop and compare the benefits and premiums of each health insurance plan. If you and your family are in general good health, the new Health Savings Account (HSA) may be worth considering. The HSA is an account that allows you to save tax-free dollars for your medical / health expenses. Similar to an individual retirement account (IRA), you are limited in the amount you are allowed to contribute each year; however, with the HSA, withdrawals for healthcare expenses are not penalized, and withdrawal taxes are not paid. When combined with a health insurance policy that has high deductibles and low rates, the HSA may be ideal for you. Save money in the HSA for deductibles and copays, and you’re good to go.
For those over 65 or permanently disabled, Medicare is available through the federal government. Original Medicare is an 80/20 plan (they pay 80% of eligible expenses and the insured pays 20%) with an annual deductible and monthly premium. Supplemental health plans are available to cover this deductible and copay. These supplementary health plans are usually private and the insured pays a premium. In addition to the original Medicare plan, there is a Medicare HMO. In these Medicare HMO health plans, the Medicare premium is paid to an HMO to provide benefits to the insured. HMO plans are more restrictive in that patients must receive care through a network provider, but these plans often cover more prescription drugs and preventive care than Original Medicare.
Recently, some employers have offered lower premiums to employees who do not smoke cigarettes. This is currently a controversial topic for some, but it can certainly start a trend. In the future, employers and their health insurance providers may offer reduced premiums for employees who maintain a normal weight, exercise regularly, and receive certain wellness benefits. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle reduces the risk that the health insurance company will pay a lot of money for medical care in the future. And health insurance, like any other insurance, is about risk.
Bottom line: running out of health insurance coverage is a big risk for you. Find Health Coverage You Can Pay In The Event Murphy Knocks On Your Door!