By: Christopher Wolfington
The number of Americans with a high deductible health plan is growing. In 2017, 43.2% of U.S. adults under the age of 65 had a high deductible plan – 3.8% more than in 2016.
While high deductible plans do have some benefits – namely, lower monthly premiums – they also mean that the patient is responsible for a higher percentage of his or her healthcare costs. With annual deductibles of $1,300 or more for individuals and $2,600 or more for families, high deductible health plans can be a large burden on Americans’ finances. Here are some of the best tips for saving as much as possible on your out-of-pocket healthcare expenses.
Don’t Put Off Care
One of the largest consequences of high deductible plans is that they frequently cause patients to either put off or avoid seeking healthcare services altogether in fear of their hefty medical bills. However, because annual deductibles reset each year, it is actually wiser to get any necessary treatments done early on in the year, so any services you need afterward will be covered by your insurance for the rest of the year (assuming you’ve already spent all of your deductible on the first treatment or procedure). If you put off treatment until the end of the year, you will have little time to actually make use of your insurance coverage.
Make Use of Free Services
Although the majority of Americans don’t know it, many preventative health services are included in every insurance plan. For example, vaccinations and screening such as mammograms and colonoscopies are all free for insured patients. Make sure to take advantage of these services, as they won’t cost you a cent and could potentially save your life – and save you from having to undergo an expensive procedure later on.
Set Up An HSA
Another important tip for consumers with a high deductible health plan is to put money into a health savings account (HSA). Most people with high deductible health plans are eligible for an HSA, and many employers will set up accounts for their employees, although you can open one on your own as well. You can use up to $3,400 annually from your HSA for a single person and $6,750 annually for a family on medical expenses. The money in your HSA will roll over each year, has numerous tax benefits, and is portable (meaning that even if your HSA was set up by a certain employer, the account will stay with you if you change jobs).