6 Strategies for Maximizing Your High Deductible Health Plan

maximize­high­deductible­health­planThe average deductibles for health insurance plans are around $3,100 for individuals and $6,500 for families. How do you minimize your healthcare spending when you face these substantial out­of­pocket costs? Here are some tips for getting the most out of your health plan.

Know what counts towards your deductible, and what doesn’t

It’s important to understand whether the particular expenditure you’re facing will apply towards your deductible or not. Every plan is different. In some plans, any approved medical expense counts towards your deductible. In others, only certain expenses, like those incurred while in a hospital, count towards your deductible. Many plans specifically exclude things like doctor’s visits from an expenditure that counts.

In addition, deductibles work differently in family plans. Some family plans require that the deductible for each family member be satisfied before the plan begins paying for anyone’s medical expenses. In others, the plan starts paying expenses for individual family members as that member satisfies his or her deductible.

Ask questions when you go to the doctor for “no- cost” services

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) many preventative services are covered at no costs. However, often when you go to the doctor for what you believe will be a routine wellness visit, other procedures are recommended, and the doctor’s office will bill you for these. Always ask for information about the procedures that are being recommended, and whether they are covered under the scope of the wellness visit, or whether you’ll have to pay.

Get intimate with your “explanation of benefits” forms

Because with high deductible health plans you’ll be more than likely to be paying more of your health insurance costs, you need to understand what you’re paying. And this means understanding the statements that your insurance company sends.

If you think it can’t be that hard to understand a simple form, then you probably haven’t tried to read one. Often times you’ll see several amounts listed for procedures, because the doctor charges a certain rate, but the insurance company negotiates a different rate. You should be saving the “explanation of benefits” forms sent by the insurance company and comparing them to the bills received from the doctor in order to figure out exactly what you owe.

Scrutinize the bill

Use the same level of scrutiny you would when reviewing your power bill. Often the provider will send you a bill before your insurance company has paid. Make sure you closely review the bills and look for notations like “insurance company billed”. It’s best to compare the bill from the provider with the explanation of benefits sent by the insurance company before paying the provider’s bill, to ensure that you pay the correct amount.

Choose a HSA­qualified plan

A Health Savings Account (HSA) allows you to save money tax­free for medical expenses. Maxing out the amount that you can save into one of these accounts every year will not only allow you to use tax­free dollars to pay your medical bills, but that money can also be used as a source of retirement income.

Don’t be afraid to ask what it costs

You wouldn’t buy a car without asking the cost first, right? Approach your healthcare the same way. Now that many of us are paying more of these costs ourselves, it’s important that we know what to expect before we get the bill. And don’t be shy about shopping around for elective procedures. Sometimes it can be difficult to find out what medical procedures will cost ahead of time, but legislation passed last year is starting to change that, so hopefully we’ll see more emphasis on price and quality being made available to medical consumers as a result.

  Date posted: Thursday, February 18th, 2016
Category: Health Insurance, Health Savings Accounts

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