$3,529 (or 68%) of the $5,193 in the average household’s health care costs comes in the form health insurance. Finding affordable health insurance is a big deal. And with recent political battles over the health care industry, everyone should be paying close attention.
Two years ago, I made the switch to a high deductible health plan (HDHP). Hindsight is always 20-20, but I am glad I made the move, and only regret not doing it sooner.
The result of my switch to an HDHP, paired with a health savings account (HSA) and employer contributions has actually resulted in me making money on health insurance. What do I mean by that? My annual employer contributions of $2,000 exceeded my expenses ($906) + annual premiums ($936). I expect even larger gains this year, unless something unexpected happens. HDHP vs. PPO costs generally will work out in your favor if you stay healthy.
While, making money on health insurance won’t be possible for everyone, it is an example of what is possible for those in good health who are willing to take on a tiny bit of risk. If you are in good health, you owe it to yourself to at least explore employer or individual HDHP plans.
Here’s a rundown of the minimum amount of work we should each do during this year’s open enrollment to find the most affordable health insurance plan that suits your individual or family’s needs.
If you DO have Employee Sponsored Health Insurance:
During open enrollment, evaluate how your plan and insurance premiums will change.
Look at your employer’s plan offerings and do some modeling based on your past two years of health care expenses.
If you are paying over $100 per month for health insurance per person through your employer, it may pay to shop around outside of your employer’s plan (see the next section below). There is no mandatory requirement that if you are going to buy health insurance, you must do it through your employer.
If you DO NOT have Employee Sponsored Health Insurance:
Step 1: Check out the health insurance exchange in your state.
Many states are running their exchange through the ACA’s healthcare.gov website. If your state is not, you can at least be re-directed to your state’s public exchange.
Look closely at the different plans. There will be bronze, silver, gold, and platinum plans (from cheapest to highest priced, in that order). Many bronze and silver plans will be similar to HDHPs and have HSA options available (you can move funds to a new HSA any time, and I like these HSA accounts).
Factor in any subsidies that might be available for you, at your income level, if you buy through the exchange.
Update: check out my article on health insurance options for the unemployed.
Step 2: Look at private health insurance exchanges.
There is no mandatory requirement to buy a plan from the state public exchanges. Check out private exchanges as well, where you might find a better offering suited to you. Note that if you do buy through a private exchange, you are not eligible for a subsidy. If your income would preclude you from getting a subsidy, in the first place, private exchanges might offer a better deal.
A recent scan on insurance price-comparison engine, yielded two HDHPs that would cost less than $100 per month to cover two healthy 30-ish adults.
Step 3: Check with individual insurers to compare the price you found in a private exchange to the price they are offering on their own.
Affordable health insurance is out there, pre and post Obamacare. As with anything good in life, you will probably have to work to find it.
Finding Affordable Health Insurance:
- What type of health insurance plan do you have and how much does it cost?
- Where did you find your non-employee sponsored plan? And who is the insurer?
- Curious to see the details of those who are offered employer sponsored insurance, but opt to buy privately.