Whether Obamacare is repealed altogether or replaced with a light version of the law, employers remain the providers of health insurance for around two thirds of the workforce. The biggest problem that employees face is choosing the right health insurance plan for them, and an estimated 80% of them choose a more expensive health plan than they otherwise qualified for. Let’s look at how to choose the right health insurance plan in three easy steps.
Call Your Doctor If You Want to Keep Them
Once you have a list of health plans open to you, call the doctors you want to keep and ask which of the health plans they are on. HMO plans save money by restricting covered care to a limited network of providers. Your doctor may not be part of the HMO, but remains an option if they accept a preferred provider (PPO) plan; you’ll pay a larger percentage of the bill if in a PPO, but less than if you had to pay for care out of pocket.
Run the Numbers – All of Them
Know what you can afford to pay over the course of the year. You should not simply pick a health plan with the lowest monthly health insurance premiums, since this usually relates to high out of pocket costs until you hit your deductible. This is why you should start with an estimate of how many standard doctors’ visits and specialists’ visits you have per year and total up how much each health plan would charge you for these services overall.
If you rarely get sick and are unlikely to need emergency medical care, then temporary health care plans, or the plans with the lowest monthly premiums and high deductibles may work for you. If you need to see doctors regularly, take a significant number of prescriptions, suffer ongoing health problems or have young children, you’ll likely be better off paying slightly higher monthly premiums to reduce the risk of a major financial shock as the medical bills add up.
Look at Your Options for Reducing Medical Costs
The cost of medical care could be offset by a health savings account that your employer may add to if you meet certain health metrics or you could offset the medical costs by using a health care reimbursement account.
More than half of all employers contribute to employee health savings accounts, and the $800 they put in the HSA is equivalent to earning more than $1,000 post tax. Some companies allow employers to better manage healthcare claims and risks, which is why you see more companies incentivizing weight loss, smoking cessation and diabetes management program enrollment with either greater HSA account contributions or lower insurance premiums.
If you had previously been paying into Obamacare but are now looking for an affordable Obamacare alternative, this is something that should start to become easier to find now Trump’s administration is in power. Again, short term health insurance policies may be the better option here.
Once you have the list of health insurance plans available to you, call your doctor to determine which ones they will accept; then you can decide which health insurance plan to use or whether you want to go outside of network. Estimate how much you spend on medical bills in a given month and pick the health plan with the lowest overall cost; if you aren’t sure what your need for health care will be, look at how close you came to using your deductible last year and pick a plan that has a higher deductible than what you spent last year.