Open enrollment season is right around the corner and you may be making some important decisions for you, your family, or even your business. Here are some tips to think about when purchasing health insurance.
Whether you purchase your insurance through the state, government, employer or directly from vendors, this can be a daunting process. There are often many choices, with slight differences that are difficult to decipher. Beyond that, because price transparency is such an issue in healthcare, it is often hard to plan or budget for future costs when there is no way to find out how much these services actually cost! Below, I’ve tried to outline a couple tips while going through this process.
Nothing is free!!: Many patients get a large portion of their health insurance paid for by a third party (employer, government, etc). This creates the notion that health care is cheap or free in certain situations. Please remember that although you may not pay much in monthly premiums or out of pocket costs for your insurance, your employer is likely paying an exorbitant amount for health care services you may not even use. This cost has gone up considerably in the last few years
Understand premiums and deductibles: Just to review, a premium is the amount that you (or a third party) pay monthly for the privilege of being insured. The deductible is the total amount of out of pocket costs you and your family can incur during the year on top of the monthly premium you already pay. The lower your monthly premiums, the higher your out of pocket costs may be… though you still might save money this way! For instance, for a young family of 4 buying insurance from BCBS, the monthly premium for a $2,800 deductible plan is about $500 more a month than the $12,000 deductible plan… that’s $6,000 extra in monthly premiums over the course of the year!!! Why would anyone pay that much extra when good primary care can cover 85-90% of issues that will ever come up? Even the $2,800 deductible plan listed above leaves a family paying out of pocket for much of their costs in a year. Those costs are often inflated because of insurance and the amount is completely unknown to the patient prior to utilizing the service (try to think of another purchase you make where you do not know the cost prior to buying?!?).
So, if you have a relatively healthy family, ask yourself why you (or your employer) pay so much more in premiums for, what should be, cheap and comprehensive primary care services. And wouldn’t you want an affordable, budgetable, transparent monthly fee that will cover most everything that will come up during a given year including keeping you out of an expensive urgent care and or even worse, the emergency room.
- If you do have some chronic medical concerns, think about the specialists you are seeing and the different medications you're on. Is YOUR Primary Care Doctor putting all the pieces together?
- Is you current doctors taking your finances into consideration when prescribing and ordering expensive medications/tests without thinking about it?
- Is you current doctor part of a hospital system and only recommending specialists "in the system"?
- Does your doctor expedite changes in your treatment plan and save you trips to the office?
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