How to get the most savings from your health insurance
The only thing worse than medical stress is financial stress — and at the start of each new year, you have to endure both at the same time in the annual health insurance sign-up ritual. No one likes to do it, but few things are more important to your physical and financial health.
GOBankingRates asked the experts how to get the best value not only when buying insurance, but also when using it to get the care you need.
See: Here’s how much more expensive health care is in the US than in 5 other countries
Find: How to refinance a mortgage
Learn the language
Every field has its own lingo, and if you want to navigate the healthcare system, you’ll have to learn the bizarre and often frustrating vocabulary of industry gatekeepers.
“One of the best ways to save money on health insurance is to familiarize yourself with all the confusing terms: deductible, co-payment, premium, maximum reimbursement, and coinsurance,” said Alex Kronk, author of “A Pocket Guide to Medicare Advantage—2022” and creator of The Health Plan Critic. “Understanding them will help you navigate each plan as you make your decision.”
You can find a complete glossary of terms at Healthcare.gov/glossary.
Learn: As health care costs rise, some workers are cutting into their retirement savings
Get everyone under one policy
You’ll save money in most cases by uniting everyone in your household under one policy.
“Use a floating policy,” said Nick Schrader, an insurance agent with Texas General Insurance. “This policy covers you, your spouse and two of your dependents. You will pay one policy for one family. This will save you more money than paying for individual policies.
Consider using a health insurance broker
When shopping for insurance, the options can be overwhelming – with so many choices and so many variables, how could anyone know if they really got the best plan at the best rate?
One way is to assign the task to people who do it all day.
“You may not be able to find the most appropriate insurance plan with the best price,” said Francis Locknear, founder of savings site TheCostGuys.com. “The market is flooded with hundreds of choices. Choosing the right health insurance may not be an easy task. This is why it is best to use a health insurance broker. A broker will help you find the most appropriate policy for you. They will also help you stick to your budget without compromising your needs. »
Read: 10 companies that offer health insurance to part-timers
Understanding Metal Categories
Health insurance market plans fall into four tiers – bronze, silver, gold, or platinum. Bronze plans are the cheapest, but you pay the most when you need care – 40% of the total cost. With platinum plans, the insurance company pays 90% of the cost of care, but the monthly premiums are much higher. In between are silver and gold, where the splits are 70/30 and 80/20 respectively.
“Choosing the level of protection you need is a personal decision that should be made based on lifestyle and health,” said Fran Majidi of SmartFinancial Insurance. “Overall, the majority of Americans opt for a silver-level health insurance plan. If you’re not sure what’s right for you, think about how often you’ve seen a doctor in the past year. If it was once or twice, chances are you’d be wasting money on a platinum plan, but if by any chance you got seriously ill or had a debilitating accident, you’d save a lot of money. Makes sense, right? The trick is to feel where you fit into this tier system.
Look beyond the market
The health insurance market is often the cheapest place to buy health insurance, but not always.
“Most consumers don’t know that the health insurance marketplace (Obamacare) isn’t the only place to buy individual health plans,” said Judy Bezler, Chief/Independent Agent for Judy Bezler Insurance. “If you don’t qualify for a premium tax credit, health insurance market plans can be expensive. An independent health insurance agent may offer alternative health plans that cost less than Marketplace’s unsubsidized health plans.
In addition, the open registration and special registration periods only apply to the market.
“You can buy other types of health plans 12 months a year,” Bezler said.
Take a look: 5 things to negotiate at your job other than salary
Consider a high-deductible account with an HSA
Beyond the marketplace and the private insurance market, there is a third alternative that isn’t for everyone, but offers unique benefits, tax savings, and flexibility in retirement planning.
“Consider enrolling in a high-deductible health plan (HDHP),” said Jessica DuBois, benefits consultant at Risk Strategies. “These plans are often the cheapest and allow you to save for out-of-pocket health care costs through a Triple Tax Advantage Health Savings Account (HSA). If you enroll in an HDHP, you’ll need to meet your deductible before benefits apply, so you’ll want to contribute as much to the HSA as possible. Don’t worry about spending the HSA dollars by the end of the year – the account is yours and can be renewed year after year.
If you have a high deductible, pay cash and negotiate
For many Americans, health care costs a fortune, even with coverage.
“Millions of people continue to go without insurance or choose not to use their insurance for routine care because the deductibles are so high,” said Michael Botta, Ph.D., a healthcare cost expert. who helped the White House create Obamacare and the co-founder of health market Sesame. “It’s important to remember that in-network rates aren’t always good. Often, cash pricing for services can be negotiated at rates significantly lower than even those insurers have agreed to. »
Also get a second opinion – both on cost and care.
“Most insurance policies cover the cost of a second appointment with an opinion provider,” said Sean Fox, president of Freedom Debt Relief. “But check your font first.”
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