Choose Wisely! – High Deductible Health Plans

Have you noticed that the total cost of healthcare – the sum of premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance have gone up much faster than your income over the last 10 years. You’re not alone.

Healthcare costs have become increasingly burdensome for everyone. High deductible health insurance plans, meaning that the patient is responsible for all healthcare expenses up to a certain cap, are more common. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 85% of employer-sponsored healthcare insurance plans had a deductible.  Ten years ago, 59% of plans had deductibles.

And, the deductibles are getting higher! Currently, 26% of plans have a deductible of at least $2,000.  In other words, the patient has to pay at least $2,000 before the health insurer pays. In 2008, only 15% of plans had a deductible that high. With high deductible health plans, costs can quickly become crippling. So, why are these plans becoming more common? Why do we sign up for them?

Why?

Health insurance premiums have been increasing each year.  This year’s premiums for a family are 5% higher than last year.  By itself, a premium increase of 5% does not seem unreasonable, but last year wages increased by 2.6%.  Over the last 10 years, wages have remained relatively stagnant, but premiums increased by 55%. Wage growth was not even close.

More than 152 million Americans get their healthcare insurance through their employers. And, employers asked their employees to pay a larger portion of their health insurance premiums, a double-whammy.

As a result, employees have been opting for higher deductibles health plans to offset the impact of higher premiums and higher contributions and reduce the impact on their take home pay.

What Can You Do?

If you’re caught in the vise between higher premiums and higher contribution rates, you need to seriously consider selecting a High Deductible Health Plan. But, which plan is best for me? What are the factors to consider in choosing a plan? How high or low should my deductible be?

Start with your last year’s expenses.  Add them up. Other than premium expenses, did your healthcare expenses exceed your deductible? If you exceeded your deductible, you probably chose wisely.  If you fell short of your deductible, you might need to rethink the size of your deductible.

How Can I Manage My Medical Bills?

No matter which plan you have, if you go to the doctor, visit an emergency room or urgent care center, or are admitted to a hospital, you will get a bill. Those bills can be overwhelming. Do not ignore them! Visit your provider’s website. The provider may offer an installment payment plan. If not, visit the Zeroing website. Register and check our database.  If your account is in our database, you can take advantage of our payment plan options.