With the rising cost of health care, health insurance premiums increasing each year, and the unstable economy, it is becoming difficult for consumers to afford health insurance. More and more people are losing jobs, losing their group insurance and losing hope. But all is not lost! Health Insurers know there is a demand for low cost health coverage and most have options.
If you have lost your group insurance or are self-employed and feel it’s just too expensive to have your own insurance plan, remember, having some type of coverage is better than having none at all. Many people think that they will never get sick or have an accident. That’s when Murphy’s Law takes effect. In tough economic times or any economic times for that matter, it is not worth the risk not to be covered. In the past two years I had two abdominal surgeries totaling $60,000. Hollywood has not been THAT kind to me that I could just simply write a check for $60,000. Thankfully, insurance covered the surgeries and I only had to pay about $2,000. Here are some lower cost plan options to consider in case you don’t have $60,000 for an unexpected surgery.
• Short Term Health Plans. Great for someone who is in between jobs, waiting for permanent coverage to start, or college students coming off their parents’ plan but haven’t entered the workforce yet. Premiums can be inexpensive and the plan acts more like a catastrophic policy where you may not have benefits for office visits and other services before you have met the deductible, but you would have hospitalization coverage in case of accident or emergency. This is obviously a temporary option hence the name, but it’s nice to have, just in case.
• High Deductible Health Plans. These can be with or without the HSA-compatible option. (HSA is a Health Savings Account that is opened through a financial institution, not the insurance company) The differences are; high deductible health plans provide certain services before you have to meet the deductible. But, in most cases the high deductible HSA-compatible health plans do not cover medical expenses prior to meeting the deductible with the exception of preventive care. Another benefit is that the HSA-compatible plan allows you to put money away in an account that will grow tax-free and can be used at any time to pay for qualified medical expenses. You can check the IRS and U.S. Treasury website to find a list of qualified medical expenses.
Choosing the right health plan can be a daunting task, but don’t be afraid to ask questions before you make your final selection. Some other things to consider as you make your decision are:
• Generally the higher the deductible, the lower the cost.
• How often do I go to the Doctor?
• How much of a monthly premium can I afford?
• How much money am I willing to pay out of pocket if I get sick or need to go to the hospital?
Lastly, in order to find the health insurance that fits your needs and your wallet, comparison shop. There are sites online you can access that will give you a host of quotes and plan options from which to choose. There are also insurance brokers (for no charge-they get paid commissions by the insurance carriers) who can help you find the plan that’s right you. Also, if you feel more comfortable stay with the companies you know: Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Aetna, UnitedHealthCare, Kaiser Permanente etc. There’s a reason why these companies have been around forever. But if it’s a choice between not having health insurance and choosing a company you’ve never heard of, get the insurance!! Just make sure you read all of the fine print.