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Five Ways to Save Money on Health Insurance

Ernie Shannon's picture

Many factors will change regarding health insurance during the next two years, but some things will hopefully remain timeless.

As the Affordable Care Act (ACA) kicks in for good or ill, Americans will hear plenty about medical loss ratios, health insurance exchanges, federal mandates, modified adjusted gross income, and much more they will probably wish they had never heard of. In the process of understanding criteria written by government bureaucrats, researching options and choices, and making decisions, it will be important to remember some basic good advice about health care and well-being. Following are some suggestions from “Health Insurance for Dummies” by way Cleveland radio station 95.5 The Fish.

First, review health insurance options annually. Whether you get your health insurance coverage through an employer or purchase an individual policy, you should review your options at least once per year. Health insurance companies are bringing new, innovative options to the market all the time. Just remember that it’s still possible to be declined for an individual policy due to a pre-existing medical condition. Don’t cancel your current plan until you’re officially approved for a new one. And this writer would add that with the onset of state-managed health insurance exchanges where insurers must meet ACA guidelines before being accepted into an exchange, insurers will be looking harder than ever for ways to attract customers and maximize profit while meeting strict federal rules.

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Second, cultivate healthy habits. By taking care of yourself now, you may be taking care of your pocketbook in the future. A recent study conducted by eHealth Inc., found that of over 200,000 consumers with brand-name health plans purchased through their website, smokers paid 14 percent more on average for their monthly premiums compared to non-smokers. Policyholders with a body mass index in the “obese” range paid 22 percent more than those in the “normal” BMI range – an average annual savings of $444. This writer adds, no reform of health care will ever alter the fact that a healthy lifestyle is the best insurance coverage available.

Third, try a plan with a higher deductible. If you’re relatively health and rarely see the doctor, consider switching to a plan with a higher annual deductible and a lower monthly premium. Thanks to the 2010 health care reform law, some preventive care services will still be available to you with no out-of-pocket cost. Just be sure that you can afford to pay the full deductible in case of a serious injury or illness. This writer believes the wisdom of health savings accounts comes into play here whereby a higher annual deductible could be covered by a robust health savings account that is set aside for medical expenses and can accrue quickly.

Fourth, consider splitting up the family. There’s no law that says you need to have the whole family on a single health insurance plan. For example, some employers pay a substantial amount of employees’ monthly premiums, but little – if anything for their dependents. You may be able to save on your monthly health insurance costs by putting your dependents on a plan of their own. This writer says, never thought of that!

And fifth, mix and match additional benefits. Even if your employer provides dental and vision benefits, it may be worthwhile looking into these plans on your own – whether for your whole family or just for dependents. You may be able to save money and get benefits better matched for your family’s needs.