Fall is the time for picking apples, pumpkins, and … health insurance plans! Indeed, most people will have to select their insurance carriers by November 15, 2012 for next year. Fortunately, many employers are offering online tools and special programs to help you better understand your choices.
What to expect
Employers’ healthcare cost will continue to rise in 2013, although at a lower rate as employees’ share of health benefit cost will most likely increase through higher deductibles and co-pays. Coverage cuts are also bound to happen. Hopefully, the plans that are offered by your company will provide quality care for your family and be fiscally sustainable for both you and your employer.
What to take into account when choosing your insurance plan
First, think about your family’s healthcare needs. How often do you and your dependent(s) actually see a doctor? Do you or your dependent(s) suffer from a chronic disorder? Do you know of any surgery need in the future? Anticipate anything you can.Second, consider ALL your healthcare-related costs. What deductible best suits your family’s overall healthcare needs? Remember, your annual deductible, coinsurance and copayments, all comprise your healthcare costs. Understand the difference between seeing an “in-network provider” vs. an “out-of-network provider”. Finally, consider participating in Health Savings Accounts and/or Flexible Spending Accounts, and know the difference. To take full advantage of these tax-advantaged financial accounts, you need to assess your medical cost per pay period.
What to take advantage of
Learn about healthcare-related “perks” that your employers and/or insurance carriers may offer, and take advantage of them. For example, some employers offer wellness programs to reward healthy behaviors. These initiatives may include non-smokers, voluntary health screenings, and/or exercise programs. Wellness plans often offer employees a financial bonus.
Remember knowledge is power. Do your homework and you will eliminate healthcare surprises in 2013.