Guest post by Sara Mackey
The cost of health care in the United States has reached jaw-dropping levels. In 2011, the global consulting and actuarial firm, Milliman, issued a report that included an estimate of annual health care costs for a family of four covered by a PPO (preferred provider organization.) Hang on to your hats. The bill came to $19,393.
If you really want to put that number in perspective, the federal poverty level for a family of four in 2011 was $22,350. Assuming they even had the money to pay for the PPO? They’d have about $2,957 to live on — for the year — after paying for health care. Needless to say, health care gets puts aside for many families in the interest of living. They are living, however, one major medical emergency away from financial ruin.
Compare Quotes and Benefits Online
For folks facing this situation, finding cheap health insurance is more important than many people can even imagine. Starting the hunt online is the best option since there are excellent ways to compare quotes and plan benefits. It’s a real mistake to be lazy about changing from one plan to another. No one wants a gap in coverage, but reviewing policy prices and benefits annually is essential to staying on top of potential discounts.
Go for Family Plans and Multi-Policy Discounts
Family plans are always the best option, and it’s a good idea to have multiple policies with the same company to keep prices low. There are some cases where a husband and wife can save money having their own health insurance policies instead of single coverage, but those policies should be with the same company to get a multi-policy discount.
Opt for Catastrophic Coverage
People who are young and healthy might want to consider going with higher deductibles and more out-of-pocket expenses on their regular coverage, while paying for catastrophic coverage that would address a major illness. Medical debt is a leading cause of bankruptcy in the U.S., so even though catastrophic policies have high deductibles, they’re a good hedge against the expense of a serious and unexpected illness.
Use Available Tax Breaks
It’s also important to take all the tax breaks possible. For instance, any person who is self-employed can deduct 100% of their health insurance premiums if their medical expenses exceed 7.5% of their adjusted gross income. This is the kind of tax math that cause most people’s eyes to glaze over, so ask the accountant exactly what options are available to defray medical expenses in any tax situation.
Hunt for Coupons
Although it’s not a widespread model, it doesn’t hurt to join coupon services like Groupon to look for discounts on preventive services like dental cleaning. Anything that helps to defray out-of-pocket expenses is useful, but there’s no substitute for active policy monitoring and annual plan comparison. Don’t pay for benefits that will never be used, and understand the policy language in the existing coverage to make sure the insurance is being used to its maximum potential benefit.
These are a few ways you can save money and find discounts when shopping for health insurance.
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