It’s that time of year again. When the health insurance company sends me a letter telling me what my new premium will be. This year, my plan resulted in a $50 increase. Because costs keep rising. (Or the CEO of the company is finding his hundreds of million dollars in compensation is inadequate.)
At any rate, last year I received a rather long justification of rising rates — even for those of us who live healthy lifestyles and rarely use our insurance. This year’s justification was rather short, and included, once again the fact that, even though I have an individual plan, my costs go up along with the costs of those in my “group”. Basically, I’m subsidizing others’ poor health and, in some cases, bad health decisions. (Who says that we don’t have socialized health care? Society still pays for it, but not through a government apparatus. Of course, subsidizing it through insurance companies is much costlier to individuals, for the most part, than subsidizing it through the government through slightly higher taxes. But that’s another rant.)
This year, the nice, helpful folks at the insurance company sent me a cover telling me that they are here to help, and offering a very few ways that I might be able to reduce my costs.
I called to see what I could come up with. I did end up finding out about a plan that would reduce my health insurance premium to around $400 per month, rather than watching it jack up to $466 per month. The move will save me $792 on premiums in the coming year. I had to change my office visit co-pay, increasing it by $10, and agree to a $200 deductible for my prescriptions, but even with those changes, the new premium will save me $500 this year, over what the new premium would have been. I did have to raise my deductible as well, but that will only kick in if we have a major expense (which we haven’t yet), and the $2,500 deductible is something we can handle with our emergency fund — or the Health Savings Account I am thinking of opening.
I wanted an even higher deductible, but any plan with a higher deductible switches to deductible and then 20% coinsurance, which the lady explained to me means that I pay all of my out of pocket expenses and then 20% of all costs after the deductible is reached. After figuring out the fact that I would not reach the deductible this year, and would have to still pay a premium (only $20 less than the plan I chose), I realized that I would actually be paying more overall. Stupid cleft stick the insurance company catches you in. It sounded good at first, but when considering health insurance costs, it is important to factor in more than just the premium. You need to look at your out of pocket obligations and whether that 20% is more than the office visit co-pay. Hint: It usually is.
I wanted to get rid of maternity, but no plans with my company offer that, unless I go with an even more grotesque deductible/coinsurance plan. I looked for other plans from other health insurance companies (and will probably continue my search today), but none of them are really any better for the (rapidly dwindling, I discovered in my information) coverage I receive. In the end, I figure I’m kind of stuck. Sure, it’s crappy, but for all of my looking, I haven’t found anything much better.
Our health care is costlier than any other in the developed world, and it isn’t even the best. And, as my monthly premium goes up every year, I am continually reminded of the fact that in many cases, one insurance company is much like another. At least this year I’ve actually managed to reduce my premium. But it didn’t just happen. I had to go out there and look for a reduction. If I hadn’t taken the initiative, I would have had to swallow a $50 increase instead.
Has your health insurance premium been going up? How much? What are you doing to try and reduce your health insurance costs?