It's actually challenging to think of anything less exciting than researching health plan options but since health care costs are eating up a lot of your money--it's worth a little time to maximize those health care dollars!
This year before you write off your research as a hopeless cause and call in the old "eenie meenie miney mo" trick, let Take Command Health help you compare plans based on your known medical needs, prescriptions and doctor preferences. It's kind of like a Kayak or Expedia--in that we help you compare options across providers... and it's kind of like TurboTax--in that we use a short guided interview to capture your information and make recommendations accordingly.
But before you begin, a few tips to remember as you pick your plan for 2016:
- Don't go without coverage. In 2016, the penalty for not having coverage is going up to $695 per adult ($347.50 per child under 18) or 2.5% of your household income--whichever is higher. Without coverage, not only are you liable for the penalty, but one freak accident can easily spin you into bankruptcy. There is no way around it: getting care in America is expensive. Buy insurance.
- Shop around every year. Insurance companies change their plans annually--so don't just let your existing plan auto renew without doing your research. We know it isn't fun, but spending a little time upfront can save you a lot of money over the long haul. According to a recent HHS.gov study, people saved ~$400/year by shopping around instead of renewing an existing plan.
- Stay "in network." Sure, you've probably heard something about staying "in network." But what happens if you accidentally go out of network? You can end up with hundreds or thousands of dollars in medical bills. If your doctor refers you to a specialist make sure that you confirm they are in your network. Also, when arranging surgery at an in-network hospital, confirm with your doctor that everyone involved in the surgery and care will be in-network or find out if they can arrange in-network providers. And note: out of network costs do not go towards your annual out of pocket maximum or deductible so you really are just throwing away money when you go out of network.
- Take advantage of a Health Savings Account (HSA). An HSA is money set aside to pay for medical expenses not covered by insurance. You can use an HSA to pay for deductibles, copays, vision and dental care. Using an HSA reduces what you have to pay in taxes. Here's how: let’s say your taxable income is $40,000 a year and you pay 30% (or $12,000) in taxes. If you put aside $2,000 in an HSA your taxable income will be $38,000 and your taxes owed will be $11,400... saving you $600! Money put into an HSA can also be rolled over into the next year - all the way into retirement!
- Be smart about prescriptions. Talk to your doctor about using generic drugs—generic drugs can save you hundreds of dollars a year over brand name drugs. Also, always do a little shopping before you fill a prescription. We’ve found goodrx.com to be an excellent way to quickly and easily scan prescription prices in your area
At Take Command Health, our goal is to make finding and enrolling in the right health insurance plan a breeze.
I wrote this blog because I care about ideas (big and little) that can help fix our healthcare system. I used to work on projects for Kaiser Permanente and the Parkland Health & Hospital System so I've seen the system inside and out. It's so important that consumers keep up with industry shifts and changing health insurance regulations. I'm also Take Command Health's Content Editor and a busy mom. Learn more about me and connect with me on our about us page. Thanks!