Weighing Your Options When Shopping for Discounted Healthcare

November 15, 2014 marks the beginning of the next health insurance open enrollment period.

With the date approaching in just one month, your workplace has probably already started explaining any changes to your health care coverage. If you’re a freelancer, contract worker, part-time employee, or you work at a small business that’s not federally-mandated to provide insurance, you should be beginning to consider your insurance options as well.

Because maintaining your health is such a crucial part of ensuring a long, happy life, exploring your healthcare options should not be rushed or taken lightly. Here are our suggestions for weighing your options and discovering what makes the most sense for your finances and your health.

Looking for Discounted Healthcare This Open Enrollment Period? What You Should Consider

What’s the Best Deductible – Low or High?

When considering healthcare options, one of the primary ways people compare insurance plans is by looking at the deductibles. Generally, the higher the deductible — which refers to the portion of your medical costs that you pay before your health insurance foots the bill — the lower your monthly premiums, which are deducted from your paycheck or paid directly by you.

On the surface, then, the answer to which deductible is better, high or low? seems quite obvious: no one wants to pay more in health insurance premiums each month! Bring on the high deductible! But remember that even if you’re young and healthy, if you’re injured or diagnosed with a serious illness, you could suddenly find a mountain of medical bills in your mailbox — and that low deductible will be more appealing than ever.

So Really, What Deductible Should I Pick?

Kansas City | Health Insurance Options to ConsiderNo one can see into the future to tell you whether a high or low deductible is a good idea, but you can consider your family health history, your personal health risks, your lifestyle, and your financial status before making the decision. Consider if you are at heightened risk for illness or injury due to genetic predisposition, your habits, or your job. (One great way to determine this? Come to Test Smartly Labs of Overland Park for a personalized Health Risk Assessment or Biometric Screening — which can be completed with no insurance and no doctor’s orders completely off of your medical record!) Also ask yourself if you can afford a higher monthly premium (which comes with a low deductible), or if you have enough emergency funds set aside to potentially pay for a big medical bill in full (which could happen with a high deductible).

If you can afford a low deductible plan and know you will require lots of medical care in one calendar year — perhaps due to a chronic condition, due to the fact that you’re pregnant, or simply due to the fact that you have a gaggle of kids who need to visit the doctor — then it might be your best bet. If you feel confident that you are healthy and don’t need much medical care beyond an annual check-up, the high deductible plan may be best. (Regardless of which deductible you pick, though, remember — those pesky co-pays can come with both plans, so you’ll need to budget for them, too.)

Should I Purchase Health Insurance or Pay the Fine?

If you read the above and found yourself thinking What if I can’t afford either deductible?, then you may be considering forgoing your health insurance altogether this open enrollment period.

Though the Affordable Care Act, more commonly referred to as ObamaCare, aims to make healthcare more accessible for all Americans, in reality, there are still some people who are stuck in a sort of healthcare limbo — unable to afford the premiums offered by workplace insurance plans, the federal Health Insurance Marketplace, or state Health Insurance Exchange, yet making too much to qualify for Medicaid (government-sponsored insurance) or other taxpayer-provided healthcare discounts.

For these Americans, the choice is to opt out of purchasing insurance altogether. Since ObamaCare mandates getting covered by health insurance in some form, if you’re not exempt from being insured (read the official guidelines here), then you will have to pay a fine. In 2015, the penalty for not having health insurance is either 2% of your household’s yearly income or $325 per person annually ($162.50 per person under age 18) — whichever is the higher amount.

Depending on the healthcare plans you’re comparing and all the above considerations about your health, paying the fine might be a reasonable alternative. (Want the details? We’ll cover these in a future post).

But Can I Stay Healthy Without Insurance?

It’s possible to still live happily and healthily even without medical insurance. You can call around to local doctors to ask if they will see patients who are paying out-of-pocket. Some may offer payment plans to help. You can also rely on your local health department, walk-in clinics, or urgent care facilities.

Kansas City residents should visit our comfortable, walk-in facility, Test Smartly Labs of Overland Park, for quick, affordable lab testing, including cholesterol testing, diabetes testing, STD testing, heart health testing, and more. We complete the same health screenings done at the doctor’s office, with no germy waiting rooms or costly co-pays. We don’t require insurance, and we even offer bundled health test panels to cut your costs!

To learn more about how Test Smartly Labs of Overland Park can help you stay healthy without health insurance, call (913) 815-0988 or visit us today!

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