Did you get a letter from your health insurance company this year letting you know "we regret to inform you, but your rates are going up?" You're not alone. Many Americans are receiving similar letters with rate increases of 10%, 20%, or even 25%! You may have had a healthy year too. What gives?
Here are 3 things you can do to fight back and keep your rates low.
1. Don't get suckered into auto-renewing.
Insurance companies know exactly what they're doing. They've studied consumers and they know you don't want to hassle with changing insurance companies. Let's face it, you've finally figured out how the deductibles and co-pays work on your plan, found doctors you like, and like that you've linked your credit card up to auto-pay so that you don't have to worry about it. Maybe you even figured out their website and you like you can quickly find your claims. The companies write a nice little letter saying that health costs have gone up, you've heard some talk about that on the news, and you believe them.
Here are some facts. Yes, health costs did go up this year. The center for Medicaid and Medicare estimated costs went up 3.7%. Which begs the question, why are your rates going up 15%+? They think, err...they know you're too lazy to shop around and they're trying to take advantage of you.
They know this and are taking advantage of you! Look, costs do go up, but not as much as they lead you to believe.Insurance companies know you’re apt to renew, so you’re likely to get a rate increase and subtle changes in coverage that make a big difference. You know how you always get those letters saying we regret to inform you your rates are going up? Take a second to shop around each year. You’ll be surprised at the better options. This year alone the number of plans available to Texans has nearly doubled.
2. Figure out what you need and look around
Ok, so hopefully I've convinced you not to auto-renew your plan. Making a little effort once a year is going to pay off. So what should you consider when shopping?
In our research, we found that over 75% of a person’s health costs are completely predictable with a little thought—you know if you have a chronic condition, need to see a physical therapist, get seasonal allergies, take prescriptions, etc. People panic worrying about major accidents and illness (which is why you get insurance) but they are rare events. When shopping for health insurance, think about what you need coverage for and look for plans that fit your needs. A great place to start is the "Summary of Benefits and Coverage" that each and every plan--by law--is required to have. The SOBC must clearly lay out what the plan pays for over 20 different categories of care. Remember that an entry that says "no charge" or "0% coinsurance" means that you pay everything until you meet the plans deductible.
3. Shop smart - look beyond deductibles and co-pays
The worst way to shop for a health plan is to only look at the plan brochure and the deductible and primary care copay. Unfortunately this is what most people do and insurance companies know that and take advantage of you in their marketing materials. For example, this year Aetna even renamed some of their plans to include “$5 copay” in the name of the plan. Yeah, you’ll pay $5 to see your primary care doctor, but you’re getting suckered on other care if you look into the fine print. Sometimes you get a plan with a $5 copay, but you’re paying $300+ more a month. Are you really going to the doctor that much?
If you can stick to these basic steps, you'll be on your way to choosing a plan that works great for you and your family and you'll save some serious money. We've created tools at Take Command Health that can help you do all of these things in less than 5 minutes. Come let us help you shop smart! Click here to begin.