Save money on health insurance to help balance your budget! The cost of health care is increasing every year and many people do not know about the options available for saving money when it comes to their health.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010 mostly addresses access to health insurance coverage and assures that all Americans who need coverage will be able to get health insurance. It is not clear how the legislation will impact the cost of health insurance, especially premiums and out-of-pocket expenses. It is likely the costs will continue to increase for the foreseeable future.
Also, many of the changes in the health reform legislation will not be effective until 2014 or later.
There are things that you can do now to help lower your health insurance costs, or at least help prevent those costs from going up.
Whether you get health insurance from your employer or purchase your own insurance, you are probably paying a hefty amount for your monthly health insurance premium. Health insurance premiums have been rising every year and many employers are asking their employees to pay an increasing percent of their health premium as a deduction from their paycheck. You may find the following tips helpful:
Most insurance companies have health plan options that allow you to choose from among health insurance policies that have lower monthly premiums if you consent to pay more out-of-pocket costs, such as a yearly deductable and copayments for services and prescription medications. If you are healthy and do not anticipate any (or a small amount of) medical spending in the coming year, choosing a plan with larger out-of-pocket expenses may make sense for you. Read more...
For some consumers, buying health insurance is the only health coverage option. However, even if you have health insurance from your employer, private insurance may still be an option to save money. With health insurance premiums increasing every year and employers passing more of the costs onto their employees, your company's health insurance may not be the best deal. Read more...
If you and your spouse/partner are both eligible for employee health benefits, check out each company's health insurance options to see which may cost you less. Employers differ considerably in the amount of premium contributions and you may be able to save money by switching to your spouse's family coverage. Read more...
Laid Off — Be Careful with COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act)
If you have been laid off from your job and your former employer has 20 or more employees, the company is required by a 1986 federal law (known as COBRA) to offer you the option to pay for an extension of your health insurance coverage for at least 18 months.
If you sign up for COBRA, you will continue to have similar health insurance and the same health plan benefits that you had while employed. However, you must pay the health insurance premium that your former employer was paying for you plus a 2% administrative fee.
COBRA can be very expensive! If you are getting coverage for yourself, you may have to pay up to $400 per month. And family coverage may be more than $1000 per month, which is a lot of money and probably more than you expected to pay, especially if you also lost your income and are collecting unemployment insurance.
If you and other members of your family are healthy, you may be able to find a high deductible health plan that is less expensive than COBRA. You have 60 days to make a decision about COBRA after you are laid off, so go online or make an appointment with your insurance broker to learn about your options. Read more about your health insurance options if you have been laid off.
Get Healthy and Stay Healthy
Leading a healthy lifestyle, including stopping smoking, wearing seat belts when you drive, exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight can decrease your healthcare costs. Interestingly it can also help reduce your health insurance premiums.
Many employers are providing financial incentives for their employees to stay healthy. By participating in your company’s wellness program, you could not only save money on your share of the premium costs, but you also may improve your heath.
For example, Safeway, the nation’s third largest supermarket chain started a voluntary Healthy Measures program in 2005 and currently 74% of employees participate. Employees who participate fully in the program can see yearly premium savings of up to $780 for an individual and $1560 for a family.
Check with your employer’s human resources department to see if your company offers a wellness program with healthy lifestyle incentives. If your company does not offer such a program or if you are self-employed, or unemployed, get out and take a walk and have a salad for lunch instead of fast food!