It seems that high deductible health insurance has become the ‘new normal’ in the insurance world. Whether it’s insurance through your employer, a private plan, or a plan from the Healthcare.gov marketplace, the lower monthly premium cost is attractive… at least until we need to use our insurance.
As an insurance broker, a fellow consumer, and a former healthcare administrator, I’ve had a lot of experience with this topic, so I’ve come up with a list of 7 helpful tips to ease this financial burden.
The Quick List:
- Read your plan benefits every year.
- Use in-network providers.
- Get Supplemental Health Insurance
- Utilize your preventive care benefits and get care early in the year.
- Make payment arrangements.
- Invest in and utilize an HSA.
- Review your medical bills or have your insurance agent/broker review them with you.
And now, for the details:
1. Read your plan benefits ever year.
Health plans are complicated, so even when you have the same plan from year-to-year, it’s good to re-review it. Also, the plan name can stay the same but the benefits can change slightly, so it’s good to review before you need to use the benefits.
2. Use In-Network Providers
Getting care outside of your network can increase your costs significantly, because providers that are not contracted with your insurance carrier can charge whatever they like. And if you’re on an HMO, medical charges for a non-network provider will not be paid at all (with the exception of a travel emergency).
Also, using out-of-network providers results in a higher deductible, which will add significant expenses to your annual medical expenses.
Bottom line, know your in-network providers. All insurance companies have comprehensive lists, usually with easy, online access and robust search tools.
3. Get Supplemental Health Insurance
A supplemental health insurance plan can help cover the gaps in your high deductible health insurance. Supplemental health insurance pays you for sickness, accidents and/or major illnesses. The benefits can be used for things like:
- Medical deductible or coinsurance
- Rent or mortgage payments
- Everyday living expenses
Because supplemental insurance generally pays benefits directly to you, that means you can use the funds wherever you need them most.
Contact us if you’d like a free quote or go to our self-directed quoting site. These plans are surprisingly affordable.
4. Utilize your preventive care benefits and get care early in the year
Most employer plans and ALL public ACA plans include preventive care at no cost to the insured. Catching issues early is better for your health and often keeps long-term medical costs at bay.
To make the best use of your deductible throughout the year, it’s a good idea to get your preventive care taken care of early in the year. That way, if more testing or specialist appointments are needed, it can be done in the same plan year instead of rolling over to a new plan year with a new deductible.
5. Make payment arrangements
Most providers are happy to set up payment arrangements, and many state credit laws protect the consumer in doing so. Another option, if your budget allows, is to ask for a cash discount for payment at the time of service. This is especially effective if you haven’t met your deductible yet.
6. Invest In and Utilize a Health Savings Account (HSA)
If you can find a plan with a Health Savings Account attached, grab it, and if you can, maximize the annual tax-deferred contribution. Here’s a link that will provide you with what an HSA is and all the benefits of having one. The benefits are MANY.
7. Review your medical bills or ask your insurance agent/broker to help review them with you
Statements from your medical provider can be complicated, but reviewing them can be worth the time, as human errors do occur. Look for provider names you don’t recognize and dates you don’t remember getting treatment. Or for especially complicated statements or large dollar amounts, ask your insurance broker take a look. They can at least help you understand your benefits and how those benefits were applied to your medical costs.
I’m sure I’ll think of even more tips after this article is posted, so stay tuned.
And please feel free to contact me with questions or a free quote. You can also use our self-directed quoting site here, where you can find a quick quote on short-term medical, accident/illness, and dental. The world of insurance is complicated and ever-changing, and I’m here to help.