How to Save on Health Insurance

I was recently approached by some close friends dealing with a common healthcare situation. As a married couple expecting a baby, my friends are preparing for a huge life change and some potentially sky-high healthcare costs. After the baby, the father will be the only worker and is self-employed. In order to help him and everyone using healthcare, I have written about some ways to save on health insurance for the self-employed and also for those receiving insurance from their jobs.

Compare Health Plans to Find a Deal

Initial research by my friend yielded plans costing upward of $1,000 per month, but further research has provided some more acceptable deals. If you want to check out personal insurance, the website is reputable and easy to use. The site offers great services including instant chat, accessible plans, and a series of questions to help you find the right insurance for those unsure where to start. By being able to compare plans from many companies, I was able to find some options for my friends ranging from $200-$500 depending on the levels of service.

I have also read of other healthcare options available through the following companies/organizations.

Understand Healthcare Terms

Taking time to learn about options can help people in any situation.

Types of Healthcare Plans

  • HMO – Requires a Primary Care Physician (PCP) who can refer you on to in-network specialized doctors when necessary. The lack of flexibility is offset by lower costs.
  • PPO – Has recommended providers/doctors you can see for lower costs, but allows you to be flexible by not requiring referrals for specialized doctors.
  • POS – Similar to an HMO, except the PCP can refer you to out-of-network specialists when necessary. Tends to cost more than an HMO but less than a PPO.
  • HSA – A healthcare savings account which allows you to put money in a tax free account that is then used on any healthcare costs. Allows a lot of flexibility and potential savings if you have limited need for healthcare.

Healthcare Coverage Options

  • Deductible – The amount of money you must pay in a year on medical costs before your insurance starts kicking in. Some companies will pay a small percentage of your costs before you hit the deductible.
  • Coinsurance – The percentage (typically 0%-40%) of costs you must pay after you hit your deductible in a year.
  • Cost per Visit – The copay you pay for any visit before and, at times, after you hit your deductible. The copay is usually $10-$35 per visit.

Try to choose levels that you can comfortably live with. As I have cautioned readers on warranties when budgeting, you should not pay for something you can provide for yourself. Try and set the deductible as high as you can cover with a reasonable amount of savings.

Make Healthy Choices to Save on Health Insurance

In addition to doing research on plans, making healthy choices ahead of time can have an impact on the healthcare costs. Alongside age, student status, and members in the family, one of the leading questions asked by insurance companies is if someone has frequently used tobacco in the past 12 months. I decided to test out how much tobacco use impacts the costs and the results are $10-$50 per month or $120-$600 per year. That’s a huge cost to consider for those who are tobacco users and a good incentive to find a way to stop now in case you need personal healthcare in the future.

Don’t Wait to Sign Up for Healthcare

In my friends case, if they had no prior insurance then the pregnancy would  have been a huge wallet shock. Most insurance companies only offer extremely expensive insurance if a couple contacts them when pregnant. There are some services for those who cannot afford insurance, but it may be difficult to qualify. Go ahead and make sure you are covered today before something major (cancer, heart attack, surgery, pregnancy) happens and you don’t have any insurance to cover it at all.

Sites With More Information

What are your thoughts on Healthcare costs?  Have you found any good ways to save? Comment below.

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