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Are you getting medical insurance through your employer and stuck with an enormously high deductible plan? Do you feel like you never want to step foot inside a doctors office, just because you’re scared of the costs? Are you just paying for insurance to avoid being penalized for not having it?
No-one wants to be without health insurance, it’s scary. But, brace yourself: Within a few years, your only choice for health insurance through your employer may be that high-deductible health plan. It’s important to act smart now. Everyone should evaluate how much money they’re fishing out to insurance companies each month and measure it to how frequently you actually visit your doctor. Every case is different and every one is different. We’re not advocating for you to not have insurance, of course you should in case something catastrophic happens.
Why are so many companies offering high deductible plans? Because they push most of the cost onto the workers. Right now we’re living in an era called “consumer-directed” healthcare, and the idea is that the consumer is financially looking for the best deal possible — even your employer.
High-deductible plans aren’t a poor choice for everyone though. If you’re healthy, you shouldn’t need to go to a doctor for more than routine screenings. You still have the savings cushion to cover your deductible, leaving you to pay lower months premiums, it’s not horrible… it’s reasonable. Those high-deductible plans are supposed to nudge you to shop around for lower prices for nonemergency care, but very few people are doing that.
Many routine health services are intended to keep you well and a lot of them are covered by insurance: colonoscopies, mammograms, and vaccinations. Yet only one in 10 people in high-deductible plans said they knew such screenings were free. Almost 20% said they avoided preventative tests because they thought it would cost them.
You can ease the pain of high out-of-pocket costs by putting money into a health savings account (HSA), which most people in IRS-designated high deductible health plans are eligible for. That’s pretax money, and umahealth.com accepts it. You can use your HSA account ($3,400 annually for individuals and $6,750 for families) to pay for medical expenses. About 63% of employers offer HSA accounts, so it’s important to check to see if yours offers.
Don’t get panicky, there are websites like umahealth.com that can help you get access to affordable care. Also, if you hit your deductible, the insurer must pay 100% of in-network costs!!
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Interesting fact: Within 3 years, almost 40% of companies that offer health insurance may make high-deductible plans the only choice, according to a survey by the consulting firm PwC. It was 13 percent in 2012, now rising to a quarter of all companies in the United States.
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