Low Cost Medical Insurance
Healthcare costs increased 7-9% during 2009 and 2010, more than twice the rate of inflation. As a result, individuals covered under individual medical insurance plans have experienced premium increases of 20% or greater. If you are one of the roughly 14 million people under age 65 who purchase medical insurance in the non-employer group or individual market, how can you secure low cost medical insurance and help prevent large renewal increases?
Since everyone wants low cost medical insurance, avoid these common mistakes and you will reduce the premium you pay for medical insurance and save money on healthcare expenses:
Buying too much medical insurance – one of the biggest blunders individuals make when choosing an individual medical insurance plan is paying a higher premium for a health insurance that features copayments for physician office visits. Purchasing an individual medical insurance plan where all covered healthcare expenses, including physician office visits, are subject to the calendar year deductible makes more financial sense for most people. If you visit the doctor only 2-4 times per year, then your premium savings will likely be greater than then entire cost of these office visits.
Choosing a low deductible – most health insurers deliberately price their higher deductible medical insurance plans much more competitively because they prefer their customers to have “more skin in the game.” Your premium savings can be substantial. For example, the premium reduction for an individual medical insurance plan with a $2,500 deductible versus a $1,000 deductible can be 25% or more.
The easiest way to determine what deductible is best for you is quite simple. First, calculate the annual premium savings between the two medical insurance plans. Secondly, subtract the lower deductible from the higher deductible. Lastly, compare these two numbers. For example, if the annual premium savings is $700 and the difference in deductibles is $1,000 ($2,500 – $1,000), then ask yourself “what is the likelihood of me incurring more than $700 in healthcare expenses?” If you do not anticipate spending the additional money, then take the higher deductible medical insurance plan.
A Health Savings Account paired with a high-deductible plan can generate even more financial savings because you can deduct your qualified out-of-pocket healthcare expenses from your taxes. This includes, medical, dental and vision expenses. As of January 1, 2010, 10 million people were enrolled in HSA-linked medical insurance plan, a 25% increase over 2009! Learn more about Health Savings Accounts (HSA’s) here.
Not knowing your options for health insurance – with the passage of the new healthcare reform law, called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, many new consumer protections are now in effect. For example, individuals less than age 26 can remain covered under their parent’s medical insurance plan regardless of their age, marital, employment or financial status. Additionally, health insurance companies must accept children less than 19 years of age regardless of their health status and cover pre existing health conditions. Also, the Federal Government requires each state to establish a Pre Existing Condition Health Insurance Plan for individuals that cannot qualify for an individual medical insurance plan due to a pre existing health condition.
There are other medical insurance options that you may qualify for including HIPAA and COBRA. While these may not be cheap medical insurance, if you are unable to qualify for medical insurance because of an existing medical condition, then these alternatives may help you at least secure health insurance. Whatever your situation, you can learn your medical insurance options here.
Paying for preventive care services - the new healthcare law also requires all non-grandfathered individual major medical insurance plans cover preventative health services at no cost to the insured. (A non-grandfathered medical insurance plan is a policy that was effective prior to March 23, 2010). As a result, this mandate makes higher deductible plans more appealing because preventative health services are free! Regardless of the type of individual medical insurance plan you have, it is no longer necessary to put off seeing the doctor for a check-up because it is too expensive. So, protect your health and future insurability by getting a routine exam and screening services that are appropriate for your age and gender. Generally speaking, the healthier you are and the fewer claims your health insurer pays, the less you will pay for an individual medical insurance plan.
Obtaining healthcare from out-of-network healthcare providers – since most individuals are covered under some form of managed care network (PPO, POS, EPO, HMO, etc.), always verify if your healthcare provider is a member of your provider network when calling to make an appointment. Virtually all medical insurance plans today require the insured to pay substantially more out-of-pocket when they obtain care from a non-network provider. Even if your physician or specialist is a network provider, make sure any other healthcare providers they refer, such as lab or imaging center or outpatient surgi-center are also participating providers. Being extra diligent upfront will result in saving hundreds or thousands of dollars. Do not assume every healthcare provider participates in your medical insurance plan.
Using brand name medications and not shopping around for the best Rx price – ever notice in your doctor’s office pharmaceutical sales representatives running in and out of the door? The marketing of prescription drugs is a multi-billion dollar business today. These highly compensated pharmaceutical sales representatives are paid to get healthcare providers to prescribe drugs their company manufactures. When you consider that physicians do not know how much a drug will cost under a particular medical insurance plan when purchased at a specific pharmacy, it pays to be a good consumer. Ask your doctor if there is a generic equivalent or over-the-counter alternative.
Additionally, always call at least two pharmacies to check the price before you fill a prescription. You will likely be surprised at how much drug prices vary. Do not assume the pharmacy, just because it is a self proclaimed “low price leader” such as WalMart or warehouse store like Costco, will have the lowest price on every drug. Many retailers offer low prices on certain drugs, but are more expensive on other medications. Beware of this promotional pricing approach. If your medical insurance plan does not cover prescription drugs, then get a stand-alone prescription drug card or health discount plan that provides discounts on medications through participating pharmacies.
Paying retail for medical, dental and vision expenses – always carry a health discount card in your wallet or purse. These non-insurance plans will enable you to receive discounts on dental care, vision exams, contacts lenses and glasses, and prescription drugs. Even if you do not have an individual medical insurance plan, you can still save money. At healthinsuranceadvisory.org our visitors can get a a free health discount card. Download and print your free Health Discount Card today!
Not having medical insurance – if you have a very limited budget or even a pre existing medical condition and are unable to qualify for an individual medical insurance plan, you can still secure low cost medical insurance. Mini Med, Limited Benefit and Pre Existing Condition Medical Insurance are often referred to as the cheapest health insurance. Unlike major medical insurance, these scheduled medical insurance plans pay a fix amount (indemnity benefit) for each type of covered benefit. That is why they are considered supplemental medical insurance. They are better than going without health insurance because you have some financial protection again large medical bills and a medical I.D. card. Without at least some form of health insurance you will likely find yourself with limited access to healthcare providers and medical treatment. Get an online medical insurance quote now for the cheapest health insurance. You can even apply online too!