One of the main causes of financial troubles leading to foreclosures, credit collections and bankruptcy is medical debt. Healthcare options are limited and can be very costly. For people who do not have the luxury of a corporately paid health policy, finding an affordable health care plan is quite a challenge. Self-employed individuals and small businesses have the most difficult time finding adequate health care coverage at a rate they can afford. Here are some ways to find a good health care policy while reducing your out-of-pocket costs:
- Prioritize your medical needs based on your available financial means. If you only visit the doctor a few times a year when you catch a seasonal cold, you do not need a large health care policy. A policy with a large deductible will help reduce your monthly health care premiums and save you money on services you will probably not ever use. However, if you were to experience a major medical event, such as hospitalization, you would have to satisfy the higher deductible before the insurance would cover the remaining portion. Many people who opt for a higher deductible, put additional money into a savings account to have available to use for an unforeseen medical event. If you have a medical condition that requires ongoing monitoring by a doctor or requires monthly medication, you should consider lowering your deductible. Having a lower deductible will increase your monthly premium, but save you more out-of-pocket expenses over the course of a year with your ongoing medical needs. If you do not require multiple trips to the doctor, but do require multiple medications each month; find the plan with the best prescription coverage. These plans tend to have moderate deductibles and will save you some money on monthly premiums.
- Shop around for the best managed care health plan. Managed care plans, such as HMOs and PPOs were developed with the intention of reducing unnecessary health care costs by providing incentives to providers for becoming part of their “network” of providers. For individuals, a managed health care plan can provide adequate health care coverage at an affordable rate. Review the details of many policies before deciding between policies. Look for a policy that has the lowest out-of-pocket maximum per year that you can afford. It is also important to find a policy that has the smallest exclusionary period for preexisting conditions and the fewest qualifying prerequisites. A good policy will also have an “emergency” clause, allowing for better coverage for medical emergencies. To save a little money on your monthly premiums, eliminate the coverage for services your don’t need. Ask the health care representative about removing dental, vision and mental health coverage, if you are not in need of such services. Often times, dental and vision companies will charge a reduced rate for people that are “self pay”, or paying without insurance. Unless you have a condition that would require dental, vision or mental health visits more than usual, you can eliminate these coverages from your policy.
- Apply when you are healthy. To obtain the best health insurance policy, you should apply when you are healthy. Health care companies have many ways to try to exclude individuals based on their health condition. However, it is important you are honest about your current conditions and medical history. If a company finds out you were not honest when you applied, they have the right to terminate coverage. It is best to apply for health care coverage when you are already covered under a plan. If you are expecting to leave a job, contact your current health care plan provider to request short term coverage until you obtain another policy. It is more difficult, and can be more expensive, to obtain a policy if you have not had coverage for more than 60 days.