The health insurance costs seem to keep increasing year after year and it is likely to increase in the coming year too. Though there is little that people can do to control their cost of health insurance but there are things that they can do to strengthen their health coverage in the year ahead and beyond. Individuals should be aware of these tips that will bolster their healthcare benefits, reduce their out-of-pocket healthcare spending, and encourage them to seek preventive care and pay a visit to their doctor before their illness become severe and expensive to treat.
Try to Add Supplemental Insurance
It is usually observed that people mostly focus on monthly premium prices while selecting a health plan. Though it is important to consider other costs like deductible and copayments sometimes people are left with no option other than enrolling in a plan with the lowest monthly premium or remain uninsured. For instance, if a person enrolls in a bronze plan and receives premium tax credit resulting in a $0 premium, he/she still has to meet the plan deductible. The average deductible for a bronze plan in 2020 is $6,506, which means that the person has to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket for healthcare before the plan benefits become effective.
Due to this many people delay a doctor’s appointment, or don’t fill a prescription or postpone some medical care. Thus, to avoid financial strain, individuals can avail supplemental insurance, which can be an ideal addition to their overall health benefits portfolio. In case if individuals have an accident or are diagnosed with a covered critical illness, then this supplemental plan benefits can be used to pay the health insurance deductible and other out-of-pocket medical expenses, and also for childcare and everyday living expenses. Supplemental plans are easily available online and people just need to shop around and enroll in it.
Obtain Dental Plan and If Required Enroll in Vision Plan
Individuals can certainly pay out of pocket for their dental and vision care, but they may actually save money by including these coverages. These plans may cost them a few dollars extra every month but will provide them with low or no-cost preventive care along with other benefits like fillings, crowns, and root canals. This may also improve their overall health and well-being. Individuals having dental insurance benefits are likely to go to the dentist, and also take their children to the dentist, receive restorative care, and experience greater overall health. By paying a few dollars a month in premium, dental plans help reduce their out of pocket pay for a range of services, 100% for preventive care, 80% for basic procedures like a root canal, and 50% for major procedures like crowns, the actual benefits depend on the plan selected. Similarly, a vision plan will help with the eye exam costs, fitting of contact lens, frames, and more. Sometimes people can find a combined plan including both dental benefits and vision discounts.
Make Much Use of Telemedicine
People often look to curb their healthcare spending but they are also aware of the reality that sometimes even minor illnesses also need medical attention. Thanks to technology, people can now skip the doctor’s office visit and opt for a telehealth visit instead. Telemedicine is used to diagnose, treat, and monitor a variety of health conditions from the comfort of their place. According to research, it was proved that 90% of patients prefer telehealth visits compared to an in-person doctor visit. The use of telemedicine can prove ideal for an individual’s wallet and their efficiency. People pay less for telehealth visits compared to a doctor’s office visit, depending upon their benefits. Individuals are also able to save time that otherwise they would have spent on visiting a clinic and waiting for the doctor. In telemedicine, people receive healthcare on phone or through a video chat from a convenient place. Individuals just need to check with their plan to see if they have telemedicine benefits included in the plan or not. If they have this benefit, then they should take this advantage as much as possible.
If having a Qualifying Plan Open an HSA
Individuals should open an HSA to set aside some money in a year in which they don’t expect many healthcare expenses. By doing so they can actually financially benefit in the current year as well as in the coming years. The money saved in the health saving account are not subjected to federal income tax and people can use the money to pay for qualified medical expenses like dental treatment, hospital and physician services, mental healthcare, and long-term care among some other medical care. If the amount saved in the HSA is not used, then the funds roll over year after year and people can use them when required. However, to use the HSA, people need to pair it with an HSA qualified high deductible health plan. The health insurance plan chosen by the people should be marketed as HSA-compatible. If the health plan is not designed to pair with an HSA, then despite having high deductibles people will not be able to save money in HSA. However, they can use existing HSA funds. HSA-compatible plans are available through employers, private individual markets, and through the ACA exchanges.
Start Early Planning
During the entire year while using their health plan people should pay attention to whether their plan best fits their needs or not and whether they may need to make some changes in their existing plan. In the coming months, people may require ongoing treatment or may plan to start a family or schedule elective surgery. These circumstances can increase their out-of-pocket spending and people may wish to have a plan with a lower annual deductible. In simple terms, their 2020 health plan may not fit their healthcare need in 2021 and so they might want to shop around and find suitable options. People always have the opportunity to renew their current plan if it remains the best fit. Therefore, by paying attention and planning well ahead people can save their time while shopping during the open enrollment period. People can keep track of their healthcare expenses, get preventive care on time, pay attention to changes in the network provider, and anticipate their future medical expenses. By incorporating these tips in their planning, people can set up for a winning year both health-wise and financially.