Getting affordable health insurance in this day and age is possible, but not easy. The cost of health care continues to rise, along with the cost of health insurance, but there are still some ways to get a fairly good deal. This depends on what level of coverage you need and, of course, on what you consider affordable.
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The federal government has stepped in to regulate health insurance companies. A new law called the Affordable Care Act was introduced in 2010 to try to keep health care costs under control and it seems to be helping in some specific areas so far. Another thing that is helping to keep affordable options open for health care is the development of different types of policies and incentives.
The Affordable Care Act Now
As of right now, there are already a few provisions of the Affordable Care Act in place that are lowering health care costs. According to the White House website, three provisions of the Affordable Care Act went into effect on September 23, 2010 that will benefit over 88 million people by 2013. These provisions should be able to save at least some consumers money.
One immediate benefit of the Affordable Care Act is that insurance companies must now cover preventative services like colonoscopies, mammograms and prenatal care without deductibles or copayments.
Another provision guarantees the right of a consumer to appeal coverage decisions to an independent third party. The third provision mentioned on the White House website guarantees consumers their choice of provider within a network with no referral.
The Affordable Care Act in the Future
A report by the Department of Health and Human Services predicts that health insurance premiums will drop and families will have more choices for health insurance in 2014, assuming the Affordable Care Act remains in place. 2014 is the key year because that is the year in which the state-based health exchanges are supposed to be in place to foster competition between health insurance companies. The report claims that a middle class family could save up to $2,300 per year in health insurance premiums through those health exchanges.
The Affordable Care Act also introduces a series of tax credits for health insurance over the next few years, with the end result being that a family of four with a relatively low income could save as much as $14,000 on health care in 2014.
The tax credits will also help businesses, according to the report, so that by 2019, businesses will be saving as much as $2,000 per family per year on health insurance, and hopefully passing some of the savings on to the consumer.
High Deductible Health Insurance
The high deductible health insurance is a relatively new concept that allows you to exchange a higher deductible for a lower premium. This is especially beneficial for someone who is fairly healthy and does not have a lot of regular health maintenance costs, but just wants protection against a catastrophic illness or injury. The downside to this plan occurs if you regularly incur health care costs pretty close to the deductible amount. In this case, you will feel like you paid premiums all year for nothing, since all of your health care costs were out of pocket.
Of course, even if you don’t pass the deductible amount, you will probably still save money with the plan. According to an article on Wisebread, high deductible insurance plans get negotiated rates for service, just like other plans. This means that giving a provider your insurance card, even when the cost won’t be close to the deductible, can save you a considerable amount of money on each medical procedure or doctor visit.
Another component of the high deductible insurance plan that many people elect to take is a Health Savings Account (HSA). With this account, a person can earn interest on their pre-tax dollars until they need to use it to pay for the deductible on their health care or other medical expenses. The account can be carried over from year to year, so you could build up a nice safety fund to deal with health emergencies.
Some insurance companies are working with employers to provide incentives in the form of premium discounts to employees who are generally healthy and working to stay that way. Often what will happen is the health insurance company will host a health screening in conjunction with an employer one year, awarding the incentive to any employees who get the screening. In subsequent years, employees can continue to earn the incentive for matching or improving on the test results from their base year.
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