According to the National Business Group on Health, employer-sponsored health costs will rise nearly 9 percent in 2011, and these added expenses will likely be passed onto consumers via higher out-of-pocket cost and copays. To assist consumers in navigating the impending changes and making the best choices for their health insurance, Fox Business suggested five useful tips:
1. Scrutinize higher copays and premiums, which will likely be more costly in 2011. Save money by choosing another plan option—whether on the individual market or through your employer—researching wellness incentives, which can trim your plan costs, or switching to your spouse’s plan if it’s more cost effective.
2. Take advantage of free preventative services. Starting January 1, there will be more free preventive services than ever, per the terms of health care reform. Some changes include free cancer screenings and weight-loss counseling.
3. Consider a high-deductible plan. If you’re healthy and don’t require frequent doctor visits and prescriptions, you can maintain health insurance with a very low monthly premium. And if a major accident occurs or an operation becomes necessary, you’re covered. Opting for a high-deductible plan also makes you eligible for a Texas health savings account, which is another great way to control your health care costs.
4. Note changes in drug coverage. Starting in 2011, you can no longer purchase over-the-counter medicines with HSA or flexible spending account dollars without a prescription from your doctor, so plan accordingly.
5. Keep your child on your health plan until they’re 26 if it makes sense for your family financially. The rules are lax, as your kids don’t have to live with you, and can even be married. It may be a great way to provide your son or daughter with solid coverage if they can’t obtain it on their own.
As open enrollment begins, keep the above tips in mind, and in general, ask a lot of questions to ensure you’re getting the best and most affordable Texas health insurance plan. Otherwise, you may be blindsided by changes to your health plan once January rolls around.