Changes in How You Shop For and Purchase Health Insurance
If you’ve gotten the feeling that choosing a health insurance plan requires more research – and more decisions – than it used to, you’re not wrong. And that’s actually a good thing for consumers – it means you have more options for choosing what’s right for you and a greater ability to help control what you spend on health care.
To make the choices that are most sensible for you and your family, you need to consider a number of factors when deciding what kind of health insurance best suits your needs and budget. Lately, you’ve probably heard talk of high-deductible health insurance plans – sometimes called consumer-directed or consumer-driven plans. What are these plans and what are their pros and cons?
What's a co-pay?
What’s a deductible?
Beyond the Price Tag
Here are a few things to know about high-deductible health insurance plans:
- High-deductible plans are attractive because they generally have lower premiums, which is what you pay each month for coverage. There is a tradeoff in exchange for lower premiums: for starters, your insurance doesn’t kick in until you’ve met your annual deductible, which could be several thousand dollars. And when you do meet your deductible, you may still have a co-pay or co-insurance or both.
- For people with fairly predictable health care costs, high-deductible plans can be a great way to control spending on health care. On the other hand, these costs are sometimes hard to predict.
- High-deductible plans are frequently linked with a health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA) to help cover out-of-pocket costs. These can offer tax-deferred savings on health care expenses.
- Just as you wouldn’t buy a car or a house without thoughtful deliberation over the options, you should take some time to research the pros and cons of a range of plans. Weigh the advantages of a lower monthly premium against the potential out-of-pocket costs in the event of a serious health issue. Ask your employer about any HSA and FSA offerings.
What’s a health savings account (HSA)?
What’s a health care flexible spending account (FSA)?
New Options, New ConsiderationsAccording to the New York Times, nearly a third of large employers plan to offer only high-deductible insurance plans to their workers in 2015. The trend of shifting more and more responsibility for health care costs onto consumers is going to continue – which means we all have to be more conscious of exactly what kind of value we’re getting for what we’re spending.
Historically, it hasn’t been easy for consumers to find out what their medical care actually costs. People may know what they’re paying for health insurance, but they rarely see the price tag on the health care they’re purchasing, not even after the fact. This lack of transparency can have a major impact on people with high-deductible health insurance plans whose out-of-pocket costs can be significant.
We believe a key to controlling health care costs is putting more information in the hands of consumers. To help consumers get a better idea of the prices of some common medical procedures, we have launched a first-of-its-kind health care cost transparency tool. Consumers – not just our customers but all consumers – can find the amounts we reimburse doctors for more than 1200 medical procedures. After all, why should buying health care be all that different from buying anything else?
If you’re not sure which sort of health insurance plan is best for you and your family, you can speak to one of our representatives at 1-885-854-9046 or visit one of our seven retail locations in North Carolina.
[top image: Shutterstock]