How to Save Money on Health Insurance

Depending on your situation, health insurance can take up a big chunk of the family budget. Our insurance premium eats up a third of our income! Even though it’s tempting to forego health insurance in exchange for more take home pay, health insurance is really a necessity.

Despite the high cost of health insurance, there may be ways to cut down on the costs, depending on your circumstances and how much risk you are comfortable taking.

stethoscope

Look Into a Private Plan

If you work for a small company or you are self-employed, buying an individual health insurance plan may save money over your employer’s group policy. If you’re buying your own insurance, contacting a reputable agent is a big help. My husband and I looked into private insurance several years ago, and our insurance agent was able to tell us which insurance companies were reputable, and which insurance companies were pretty much worthless in our state.

Prices will vary, depending on the type of plan you select. If you want insurance to pay for almost everything, your premiums will be high. If you are willing to pay a bigger co-pay with a higher deductible, you’ll pay less. If you are wiling to pay the brunt of your health care costs with a Health Savings Account, you’ll pay even less. Just make sure you can afford the deductible you select.

The downside to a private health insurance plan, of course, is that if you have a pre-existing condition, you likely won’t qualify for a private plan. However, your children may be able to qualify, and with the passage of the new Health Care Plan, insurance companies cannot deny children, based on pre-existing conditions.

You may be able to save money by putting your children on their own policy. Check your state laws to find out when open enrollment for children occurs in your state, usually twice a year. Then do some cost comparisons to see if you can save money by getting your children their own plan.

Use a Health Insurance Alternative

If you absolutely cannot afford health insurance, but would still like some type of coverage, you might look into health insurance alternatives like Samaritan Ministries International or Medi-Share. These are not insurance companies. Rather, they are a collective group of people who share medical costs. Each member pays a certain amount each month, and that money helps pay for the medical costs of others in the group.

You can probably save money going this direction, but there are downsides as well. There are strict guidelines to what is and is not covered, and there may be limits to how many expenses are covered in a calendar year. Regular insurance is a better bet, but this is an option if you don’t qualify.

See What Your State Has to Offer

Different states have different programs to help lower income people with health care costs. You may be surprised at what you qualify for, especially when it comes to children or pregnant women. In Oregon the income limits are pretty generous for these two groups of people.

Some states, such as Oregon, have subsidized health care available for children. You pay much less than you would for a standard policy.

There are several downsides to state insurance, however. First, you won’t qualify if you are over the set income limit (with the exception of some programs for children). Second, there might be a requirement that you be uninsured for a set time before you can qualify. In Oregon that ranges from 2-6 months. I’m not super-comfortable dropping my kids from insurance coverage for two months, just so they’ll qualify.

Finally, sometimes it can be hard to find a doctor to take a state plan. And insurance coverage isn’t worth much, if you can’t find someone to treat you.

Though it can be difficult to save money on health insurance, it is possible. There can be risks involved, and only you can decide what is best for your situation.

Photo by Jasleen Kaur.



Author

By , on Jul 7, 2013
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.

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{6 Comments}

  1. Kat:

    Take control of your health! Health insurance doesn’t ensure that you remain healthy. It insures when you get sick/injured. The American model of “health care” is actually “sick care.” Get some insurance…that way, if you need it, it is there. But spend more effort, time, and even money on controlling your health!

    Eat right–lots of fresh whole foods, prepared from scratch in your own kitchen. This doesn’t have to take hours each week, either. Exercise–every day move your body! We were not designed to be stationary

    Learn about your own individual health conditions and decide what actions you must take to reduce/eliminate doctor visits and hospital stays. Take control of your health rather than give it to a system that flourishes and profits on your disease!

  2. As an independent insurance agent I know certainly that you must shop as much as possible. Do not go through the name brand companies they are expensive. Do your research and contact a local independent health insurance agency. I am certain you will save money!!

  3. David:

    Although the proponents of “Obamacare” tried to kill it, the HSA plans are still with us. These couple a high-deductible “major medical” insurance plan with a tax-free healthcare savings account. The money that goes to that account is untaxed, and can grow if unused also without tax–so long as it is only used for healthcare expenses. Then, you can use a check or a debit card to pay your normal medical expenses with the major medical plan to kick in for those extraordinary expenses that can come up. If you are fortunate and don’t need all the money in the HSA, as it grows you can then buy successive major medical plans with higher deductibles for even more savings. For those in reasonably good health and especially for younger families, this can be the best program available. Also, many doctors and other providers will give you a sizable discount when they don’t have to bill an insurance company–I’ve seen as much as a 40% reduction quite often. Usually, though, you must ask the doctor directly as the office managers are generally unable to give you that discount and too often will simply say “no”.

  4. Metroknow:

    Great article. Here are a couple of other tips: if you are married and either spouse is a couple of years older, it may be advantageous to put the older spouse on their own plan and put the kids on a plan with the younger spouse. This is especially true around age 40 – our insurance automatically increased by 28% when my wife turned 40, so the agent recommended separate plans and we saved almost $200/mo. Second tip: call the insurance company and ask for ways to reduce your premium. Sometimes they come up with creative solutions like this one. Identical coverage levels but hundreds cheaper.

  5. This is great advice. Another thing to consider is to quit smoking, as that can improve health and may qualify you for further discounts on your health insurance plan.

  6. Debt Donkey:

    Good advice. With so much uncertainty surrounding health insurance in the months and years to come, lots of people will be researching the options to get the most for their money. Attention to detail and shopping around can save you a lot when it comes to all forms of insurance. Thanks for the good post.

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