Health care costs rank among the top concerns of modern society. As income stagnates for many, insurance costs continue moving upward. Workers face special hurdles as employers offload more of the actual cost of health insurance onto employees. Employers, trying to balance premium increases with their revenue, often pare their workforce to control costs. A Harvard University study found that premium increases are directly correlated to increased layoffs.
Health care reform measures implemented by the US Government were supposed to reduce health care costs. However, new surprises that suggest costs will continue rising routinely appear in the news. Even worse, the government will soon force all Americans to buy health insurance, putting more upward pressure on rates and increasing the financial hardship of millions. Fines may be levied against those who cannot buy health insurance, making it difficult to avoid the problem.
Though challenging, changing your own health care landscape is not impossible. The following tips provide suggestions for putting a lid on health insurance premiums.
An HSA is a special account designed to for savings toward medical expenses. Often the money deposited into an HSA comes from pre-taxed income, making it easier to save. An HSA can combine with a major medical insurance plan, so patients are protected in the event of catastrophic illness.
Like automobile insurance, health insurance normally includes a deductible. Patients must pay the deductible before the insurance policy begins covering any part of their medical expenses. By increasing their deductible, policy holders assume more of their own health care costs and – theoretically – will lower their insurance premiums.
Co-pays are nice because they make visiting the doctor affordable. Co-pays also increase the cost of health care to insurers, forcing higher rates. When patients reduce the amount of money insurers must pay, they usually see lower rates.
After a policy’s deductible is met, insurance companies split the cost of health care with the insured. In the past, this split the cost in the patient’s favor. Patients would pay 20 percent of the bill and the insurer would pay 80 percent. By choosing a plan with a co-insurance of 50-percent, patients can reduce their insurance bill.
Health insurance companies often factor the insured’s ZIP code into their premiums. Some localities suggest higher health care costs, so premiums in those areas also cost more. Do some research and move to an area where insurance costs are low before enrolling in a plan.
Media accounts suggest that government workers have some of the best health insurance around. Even better, they pay far less for insurance than their counterparts in the private sector. Even at the state level, public employee unions have managed to keep health insurance premiums low for their members.
Health insurance rise dramatically with policyholders’ ages, so patients in their twenties and thirties cost much less to insure than those who are over 50. Group health insurance policies for companies that have many older workers will cost everyone in the company more for health insurance. Get a job where the workforce is relatively young to get more competitive rates and enjoy the benefits (while you can).
The most important thing to remember about health insurance is that you are in control of it—make it work for you. These tips will help you to do just that.
Byline: Thomas Hathaway is a financial consultant and suggests there are times when a payday loan may come in handy when you have financial urgency prior to your regular pay date.
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