Almost 17% of all U.S. families do not have health insurance coverage and of those who do have coverage, fully 50% admit that their monthly premium payment is a severe financial burden. As more and more businesses drop their group health plans the situation can only get worse.
Fortunately there are things that you can do right now to help lower the monthly cost of your health insurance.
For instance, if you have children 18 or younger who cannot get health coverage they (and possibly you) may be eligible for a low-cost state-sponsored program. Every state now has a program to help insure the health of as many of its children as it possibly can. Simply enter the name of your state followed by the words Health Insurance into any search engine and you will find a website with additional information.
State-sponsored low-cost insurance for children is wonderful, but while we are waiting for similar relief for the estimated 48 million Americans now without any form of health insurance here are 5 things that most Americans can do today to help make health insurance more affordable.
By combining all 5 of the following tips you can greatly enhance your health insurance savings, but if even only one of the following tips applies to your particular situation you can still save hundreds or even thousands of dollars annually on your health insurance.
Stop smoking and lose weight. Those are the two biggies and those are also the two most difficult things for the average American to do. But if your health is important to you and if you are serious about lowering the cost of your health insurance then these are the two places you need to start. If you smoke or use chew or any other form of tobacco product you will pay more for health insurance than if you do not. And don’t even think about lying about your use of tobacco in order to get cheaper health insurance – your health provider will know in an instant that you have lied and your insurance will be cancelled. Losing weight can be even more difficult for most people than quitting smoking, but the simple fact is that if you are overweight you are going to pay more for health insurance. Most health insurance policies are concerned with your BMI (Body Mass Index), and it is possible to drop down a rung on the BMI scale simply be losing just a few pounds, so any amount of weight loss you can manage could potentially save you hundreds of dollars a year, year after year on your health insurance.
Combining all of your insurance policies – life, homeowner’s, auto and so forth – under the same insurance company has always guaranteed a Multiple Policy Discount on your health insurance, and staying with the same health insurance company for five years or longer also entitles you to a break on your monthly premium payment, but did you know that insurance companies frequently create new discounts for their policies which seldom get mentioned to the average buyer? Right this minute your health insurance company could have half a dozen different discounts which you are blissfully unaware of. Often the only way to find out for sure what discounts are available to you is to sit down across the table from your insurance agent and ask him or her point-blank to go over every possible health insurance discount available. Often your agent won’t even be aware of all the available discounts until you request the information. If you are truly serious about lowering the cost of your health insurance you should sit down with your agent at least once each year to go over new discounts that have become available.
Did you know that your credit rating affects how much you pay for health insurance? That’s why it’s important for you to keep your credit rating as healthy as possible. The higher your credit rating the more you save on your health insurance premium each month. If your credit record was poor when you first took out a health insurance policy, but you believe that your score has improved since then, it can’t hurt you to talk to your agent and see if a reevaluation of your premium is in order – you could save some big bucks. And did you know that paying your premiums yearly, or even quarterly, can save you money over paying monthly? If you are in a position to take advantage of this savings it would certainly pay you to discuss it with your agent.
The car you drive can affect how expensive your health insurance is. If you drive a flashy sports car or a big and fast muscle car you are perceived as more reckless than someone who drives a more sedate vehicle and your health insurance premiums will be higher. Similarly if you routinely engage in dangerous or extreme sports your health insurance premiums could be considerably higher than for someone who refrains from such activities. Even your career can affect how much you pay for health insurance – people with jobs that are considered dangerous will pay more for health coverage.
Adjusting your deductible is a fast way to decrease your cost of health insurance. As you are undoubtedly aware the more you are willing to pay out of your own pocket each year for your health care before you even talk to your insurance company about making payments the less you will have to pay in premiums. What you may not know is that – depending on how often you see a doctor in a normal year – it can pay you to buy an extremely cheap super-high-deductible health insurance policy. These are policies that have a deductible of $2,000 to $3,000. Obviously such a policy is not going to pay for routine doctor visits or even for many out-patient procedures. In fact, most years you will never even see any benefit from owning such a policy – except that you will be able to sleep better at night. The value of these policies is only apparent if you suffer an extreme, catastrophic accident or suffer a major, life-threatening illness. When such a calamity strikes your medical expenses can soar into the tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in the blink of an eye, putting your home, your life savings and other assets at risk. A low-cost super-high-deductible policy is an insurance policy in the event of such a catastrophic event.
Along the same lines are Health Savings Accounts. Basically a Health Savings Account allows you to save a certain amount of pre-tax (in other words, tax-free) money each year in a special savings account. Out of this account you will buy a high-deductible insurance policy plus you can pay for doctor’s office visits, emergency treatments, hospital stays, prescriptions and a variety of other medical needs – all with tax-exempt funds. One of the beauties of these accounts is that any money that is not used one year can be rolled over into the next year, allowing you to build up a large account over time – all tax-free. Such accounts must be set up through a tax accountant or an insurance agent, either of whom can supply additional information.
So there you go. There are 5 things most people can do to reduce the burdensome cost of health insurance. Of course there are many other steps you can take, such as maintaining a healthy life-style, cutting out fast food and greasy French fries, possibly looking into joining an HMO or a PPO, taking advantage of toll free medical hotlines set up by state and federal governments as well as local clinics, and checking with your agent to see if a home-based business might qualify for group insurance rates even if it has no employees – and if you are able to buy group health insurance through a home-based business ask your tax man if the premiums you pay are tax deductible!
As mentioned earlier there is no limit to the number of tips and suggestions that you can add together, multiplying your savings with each addition, but even if only one of these suggestions makes sense to you the amount you save could be substantial.
The final thing you can do is to get online and find a minimum of 3 out of the dozens of websites that are dedicated to finding you the best price for health insurance in your state. Using the tips you have gotten from this article create a health insurance plan that you feel would be suitable for your situation and which will save you money. Then compare the price of that plan on 3 different websites, so you can feel assured that you are seeing the prices from virtually every insurance company in your state.
Now all you need to do is to pick the best price from an insurance company that you feel comfortable with and there you have it! You have now gotten the best price you can for the health insurance policy you want.