If it’s one thing people know about health insurance, it's that it costs a lot of money. That’s true, but what they don’t know, is there are plenty of ways to manage those cost effectively. If you or your health insurance agent is doing his job correctly, you should always know you are paying the best rate you possibly can. If not, chances are you have neglected one of these five tips to help you save money on your health insurance.
1. Review Your Coverage (Every 12 Months)
This is the first line of defense for anyone who is serious about controlling their health insurance costs. If you or your agent are not checking competing health insurance companies rates once a year (most commonly at your renewal) you will be first in line to overpay for your health insurance.
If you do not have the time or desire to investigate your health insurance every year you might want to consider working with an independent agent who should provide you that service for free.
2. Increase Your Deductible
I know, this is the last thing you want to hear. But the truth is, your deductible has the biggest impact on determining the overall cost of your health insurance. The lower your deductible is the more you will pay each month for health coverage. If the cost of your health insurance is out of control, try bumping up your deductible a notch or two to settle things down.
If you still think i’m crazy, add up how much money you will save by going with a higher deductible. Tell me those savings aren’t pretty darn close to covering that big, scary, new deductible? If you really want to get depressed, think of all those years you didn’t meet your deductible and how much money you threw away to your insurance company. Don’t you like the idea of keeping that extra money if you don’t need it, instead of guaranteeing it to your insurance company every year?
3. Eliminate Copays
Alright, I promise I will stop telling you things you don’t want to hear. Doctors office and prescription drug copays do more than their fair share to make your health insurance unaffordable. They could very well be one of the least efficient benefit options available. You need to be on a first name basis with your doctor for those benefits to be worth your money. Having copays to go to the doctor is like asking for an oil change copay with your car insurance.
Try life without them for awhile and see how much money you save. Once you get comfortable with your insurance company’s negotiated rate, you will wonder why you thought you need a copay in the first place.
4. Switch Insurance Companies
If you really like your health insurance plan and the benefits included, you can always look to see if someone will give it to you cheaper. Like we said before, you or your insurance agent should be checking rates at least once a year. This is the most time consuming and uncertain option, however offers the most upside. If you can get approved for the same, or similar, plan and save money, why wouldn’t you?
Until 2014, when the main provisions of health care reform take place, insurance companies can deny you coverage for pre-existing medical conditions. That means, it’s possible you might have developed a condition since you first purchased your health insurance that would prevent you from switching companies. However, that is only for the next 15 months.
5. Quit Smoking
So I lied. I told you I would stop telling you stuff you didn’t want to hear. That is, unless you have been wanting to quit for some time and needed the extra motivation. In that case, I didn’t lie. Obviously, living a healthier lifestyle will provide you, and your wallet, with some leniency with your health insurance rates.
It’s a little different with each company, but plan on being nicotine free for at least 12 months before an insurance company will consider you a non-smoker. While not as directly tied to your rate as smoking, regular exercise and proper nutrition will also help earn brownie points with your insurance company.
Have you been doing everything you can to save money on your health insurance?