Health insurance costs have skyrocketed in recent years! Many individuals choose to forego insurance due to the cost. But not having health insurance can end up costing you big in the end. So, how do you save money on health insurance and make it more affordable? First and foremost, you must do your research!
Know Your Needs
There is no one size fits all answer to saving money on health insurance, so first you must know your needs. When selecting a health plan, it’s important that it be a good match for you and your family. Someone with very limited needs may be better served with lower monthly premiums and a higher deductible. If you have more specific health needs and require specific physicians or hospitals, perhaps a PPO is better for you. If you are more flexible, you can check in advance to ensure your doctor is covered by your HMO network. Ask yourself some questions:
- Are you generally in good health?
- How often do you and your family visit the doctor?
- Do you have a pre-existing condition that requires extra care?
- Are there any special health circumstances you foresee arising? (Birth of a child, knee replacement surgery, etc…)
- Do you see any specialists?
- Do you have a network or doctors you already visit? Would you be willing to change if need be?
Understanding your specific health insurance needs is crucial to selecting the best possible health insurance. You’ll need this information to make an informed decision whether you are working with a broker or attempting to select plans by yourself.
Lower Your Taxable Income & Save Money!
If your income is in a certain range, you may qualify for a tax credit with the Affordable Care Act. Lowering your income to a different bracket can save you hundreds of dollars in monthly premiums…per month! There are a variety of ways in which you can lower your taxable income. We recommend you speak with an accountant to discuss your options. A one hour session with an accountant can cost as little as $30! When you weigh that with the possibility of saving hundreds per month, it seems an obvious choice. Additionally, you may want to look into a Health Savings Account. This can significantly lower your taxable income, making you eligible for that tax credit in the marketplace. Just a note, when you are navigating healthcare.gov, make sure you enter an accurate income estimate. If you end up making more than anticipated, you may have to pay that tax credit back when you file.
High Deductible Plans (HDHP’s)
Depending on your specific health needs, you may want to look into a High Deductible Health Plan. If you have very limited medical needs, a high deductible health plan may be a great option for you. Your monthly premiums will be much lower and certain services will still be covered even before you meet your deductible (like preventative services). The deductible (which is your out of pocket costs before your insurance kicks in) will be much higher, but if your needs are limited, you may save a lot of money.
Additionally, some HDHP’s work with a Health Savings Account or HSA. Contributing to a Health Savings Account can lower your taxable income. This can possibly make you eligible for a tax credit on your monthly premiums. You can then use your HSA to pay for your medical expenses. The accounts are interest bearing and this accrued interest is also tax free. There are no taxes or penalties as long as you withdraw the money for qualified medical expenses. Additionally, once you turn 65, you can convert your HSA into a basic retirement account. You can withdraw and use the money for anything you like at that time.
Shop Around To Save Money!
Please do NOT call the carrier (insurance company) directly. They will only present you with their company’s plans and rates and you will miss out on a sea of other opportunities. You will absolutely not pay less by contacting the company directly. There is no discount or incentive they can offer you. Either shop all of your options through your own research, the plan finder on healthcare.gov or by using a broker. Additionally, review your plan and other options every year during the open enrollment. Open Enrollment is every year at the same time from November 1-December 15 (although some states do offer extra time for enrollment). New options may be open to you at that time. If your circumstances change, your plan may no longer be the best avenue. Mark it in your calendar as a recurring event so you don’t miss out.
Save Money with Short Term Medical Plans
There are some other options that you can explore. First, you can enroll in a short term medical plan. Today’s short term plans have evolved from years prior. You can obtain low deductible plans with coverage for preventive care, doctor’s visits, copays, prescription coverage and more. In many states, coverage can be purchased for up to 36 months. Generally speaking, the cost is much lower than marketplace plans (if you don’t qualify for a subsidy). Also, STM’s offer nationwide PPO networks. While STM plans do not cover pre-existing conditions in the first year, multi year STM plans will provide coverage after that. Something to consider when comparing your options.
You may qualify for some type of Medcaid program if your income is less than 100%-200% of the FPL. You may also qualify if your income is higher, but you are able to spend down your income through qualified medical expenses. Call your state’s Medicaid office, check out medicaid.gov or watch our informative video all about Medicaid for more info.
Some people will also recommend health sharings plans. However, we advise you to proceed with caution because it’s not actually health insurance. As such, there is no guarantee of payment. Although it’s not something we recommend, you should be aware of all of your options to make the most informed choice.
Purchasing health insurance can be stressful and completely overwhelming. That’s why we really do recommend working with a broker. You will absolutely not pay more by working with a broker. Actually, you will most likely end up paying less! AND, you’ll save yourself a significant amount of stress. If you’d like our help you can reach us here at iHealthBrokers at 888-918-0518 or schedule an appointment today.