Your Money, Your Life: Saving on health insurance in troubled times

by Lesley Politi on May 12, 2009

If you are finding yourself in a bind, there are many ways to lower the cost of your monthly Health Insurance premium and Medical Bills. 

Below are great ways to cut costs with your Medical Plan.


Your Money, Your Life: Saving on health insurance in troubled times

Your Money, Your Life
Dianne Webster


Whether you buy your health coverage through your employer or independently, you need to look at your coverage the same way cost-cutting entrepreneurs do.

According to a report by consultant Watson Wyatt, nearly half of large U.S. employers offer a high-deductible plan with a personal account that can be used to pay a portion of medical expenses not covered under the plan. The idea is to encourage consumers to take an active role in managing their health-related expenses.

Here are several actions you can take to help manage your own costs:

Improve your health-related behavior. Adopting healthy habits will make your insurance and potential out-of-pocket costs more affordable over time. A Stanford University and Rand Corp. study reported that avoiding chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, hypertension and stroke can reduce medical expenses by tens of thousands of dollars over a lifetime.

Know what you’re buying. Insist on understanding what you’re getting for your premium, and where deductibles do and don’t apply. Compare the premium savings from a higher deductible plan with your personal use of health services. What you save may cover your high deductible.

Research and discuss the potential cost of a diagnosis. If your physician diagnoses a condition that requires tests, prescription drugs, a hospital stay or ongoing therapy, ask detailed questions about what you’ll be charged, from the doctor’s bills to ongoing costs associated with treatment. Ask the doctor if discounts can be negotiated through cash payments or other means. Be careful that you’re not being charged a rate for uninsured patients when you are simply paying the initial share as part of your deductible. Also, consider asking doctors for generic options and samples of prescription drugs to extend your savings.

Make sure your deductible is calculated accurately. Keep a filing system to monitor how this year’s out-of-pocket spending is being applied to your insurance deductible. Your insurer’s total may not always be accurate or up to date.

Check local pricing resources. In non-emergency situations, you should always compare prices on treatments. Check with local medical boards and state health officials to see if they have online databases on costs for various medical procedures. Also, if there is a support group for your condition, talk to members about what they paid locally for care.

Be smart about emergency and non-emergency health visits. Emergency room visits cost $300 to $1,000, compared with approximately $150 at an urgent care center or $40 at a convenience care clinic in a drugstore. Check out these options in your community so you understand what they offer, what their hours of business are, and under what conditions you’d choose them. Rely on your insurer’s 24-hour hot line for guidance on where to go for care.

Take advantage of your company’s flexible spending account. A flexible spending account is a separate, tax-advantaged account where you deposit funds to pay for medical expense not paid by your insurance. This allows you to save money for some medical expenses by paying for them on a pre-tax basis.


If a client were to ask me, the most important part of your Health Insurance Plan is the Out-of-Pocket Limit or Stop loss for the year.

The Out-of-Pocket Limit is the most you will spend in medical bills in one year (January to January). Once you have met your Out-of-Pocket, the Health Insurance Carrier will pay 100% of your medical bills for the rest of the year.



Questions Please Call Politi Insurance Agents & Brokers


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