Sick and tired of the high cost of health insurance? Well, let’s start slashing. I’ve spent the last 23 years helping people find affordable individual & family health insurance. Along the way I’ve learned some ways to cut the price without cutting the essential quality. Here are a few tips:
1) Don’t be afraid to consider plans with higher deductibles. Health insurance, by definition, is protecting your health by means of a financial safety net. A good health plan, even one with a higher deductible, can give you that protection. Let’s look at some actual prices. In Los Angeles, a 40 year old in good health can get a Blue Shield PPO with a $1,500 deductible for $418 per month. Raising the deductible to $2,000 lowers the premium to $272. That’s a 54% savings which amounts to $1,752 in a year! Just for raising the deductible by $500. As a bonus, many of these types of plans will waive the deductible for routine office visits, routine physicals, and generic drugs.
2) Take a look at HSA plans. In the last few years a new type of plan has become available. These are called HSA (Health Savings Account) eligible plans. They are low cost, high deductible health plans that also offer outstanding tax benefits. For example, a 40 year-old with a family in Sacramento, all in good health, can get the Blue Cross PPO3500 HSA for $280 per month. That’s health insurance for a family for $280! On top of that the tax benefits are substantial. With prices so high these days, I think these HSA plans are going to get very popular.
3) If you don’t need maternity, drop it. You can lower your premium by choosing a plan without maternity. For example, a 40 year old in good health in San Diego will pay $349 per month for the Blue Shield PPO 1500. But the price for the Blue Shield Balance 1700, a similar plan without maternity, is $170. That’s a monthly savings of $179. And remember, for family coverage, not everyone has to be on the same plan. To lower your cost you can get a plan with maternity for the person who needs it and a plan without maternity for the other family members.
4) A word about basic, hospital only coverage: Caution. Yes, I know those super low prices are tempting, but there is a risk. You can rack up huge medical bills without ever stepping foot in a hospital. That being said, if that’s all that’s affordable at the present time, it’s better than nothing, and you can try to upgrade when finances allow.
5) HMO’s vs. PPO’s. Many people think that HMO’s are cheaper than PPO’s but usually that’s not the case. If you’re looking for good quality insurance at the lowest possible price and you don’t mind a deductible, then a PPO will be cheaper. If you want the richest possible benefits with little or no deductible, then you might consider an HMO. Remember, though, an HMO is less flexible and there are more restrictions on which doctors you can use.
6) Get some help. In your quest for affordable individual & family health insurance, sometimes it helps to talk with a professional. Make a few phone calls. Find an experienced, friendly health plan broker that offers several different companies. It won’t cost you anything (we’re paid by the insurance carriers), but it will probably save you time, money, and frustration.