Ways to Save Money on Health Insurance
Urrg! The rising cost of health care and health insurance is distressing and aggravating, to put it mildly. In November, I received notice that my health insurance premiums are going up. As of January 1 they are increasing a whopping 24% – that’s an increase of $198.44 per month!! Yes, per month, bringing my yearly premium total to $12,279.72. I guess this was an early “Happy New Year” greeting.
I am not currently employed, do not seem to qualify to join a “group” for group rates, and I do not yet qualify for Medicare (and I’m not sure if I actually will qualify for it when I do reach the qualifying age), which means I either go without insurance, or I carry private independent insurance. So once again, I need to do some thorough investigating to compare the dozens of policies and options.
I know there are thousands of others out there facing similar situations. Here are some options that might be helpful when looking for resources to save on, or secure, general medical health insurance:
Resources for finding “Group” Medical Insurance coverage:
If you are not employed by an organization or business that provides “group” insurance, you still may be able to become a member of a group, organization or union and receive insurance coverage at better rates than if you are being covered as an individual, with the added potential benefit of more leniency on issues like pre-existing conditions. Consider anything and everything, from organizations like AARP to whatever your hobby might be, as potential to finding a “group” to join. Do online searches to see if any may be offering health insurance. Try using search terms like:
- “Boat Owners of America” medical insurance group benefits (insert your own term, hobby, fraternity, profession, etc.. between the “….”).
- Group medical insurance coverage
- Where to find group health insurance coverage “insert your state”
Here are just a few groups we found who do offer health insurance coverage to anyone who qualifies for membership in their group:
- National Association for the Self-Employed
- AARP – American Association of Retired Persons
- ASCAP – The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers
- FreeLancers Union
- Musician Health Insurance
- Alliance for Affordable Services
Additional ideas for example:
- Alumni Associations
- Local Chambers of Commerce
- The Elks Club
- A sport enthusiasts club or league
- Previous military service
- Trade association
- Craft guild
- Religious organizations
- Educational organizations
- Ethnic organizations
Group Health Expenses Sharing Plan: This is not insurance but works in a similar way. A group of people pool their money together and pay each other’s health expenses. They sort of become their own insurance company. The member contributions are pooled together and usually invested in order to accrue interest on the pooled funds. These work best when there are a lot of people contributing and everyone only uses the money for major medical expenses. Many religious groups have used this model, like mychristiancare.org’s Medi-Share. If you are considering this as an option, choose a group that has been around for a long time with a good track record.
Clubs: Here’s one example of an insurance club: The No Insurance Club which offers a no-frills option to health insurance for people who want basic, preventative health care. It launched in 2009 and is now available in 12 states. Annual fees: $480 for an individual membership, and $680 for family membership, no matter what the size of the family. For that yearly fee, individual members receive 12 doctor visits, families receive 16 visits, services such as flu shots, discount generic prescriptions, physical exams, blood tests, and other preventive testing. There are no co-pays for doctor visits, no physical is required before enrolling, and there are no exclusions for pre-existing conditions.
It is important to note however, that the No Insurance Club does not cover emergency room visits, catastrophic illnesses, hospitalizations, visits to specialists, surgery, brand name prescriptions, and rehabilitation, among other services. But for some people who cannot afford the high premiums of most health insurance plans on the market, but who believe they will utilize the services offered by the Club, this may be an option – if even temporarily. This may also be a good option for those who only have major or catastrophic medical insurance policy coverage to be able to receive general care at reasonable rates.
Two other similar, though not identical, medical discount clubs are AmeriPlan.com and Careington.com.
- The No (Medical) Insurance Club – This short news clip explains how the No Insurance Club works.
Amend your current insurance policy: Carrying a higher deductible or limiting your coverage to major, catastrophic, or emergency-only coverage are ways to keep your insurance premium rates lower. The higher the deductible, the lower your monthly premium will be, but you will also pay more out of pocket when you do go to the doctor or hospital. If you elect to do this, you should consider creating a health savings account for smaller health issues.
Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP): Don’t automatically think that since you have a job you won’t qualify for Medicaid. Medicaid will pay health care expenses for low-income families, individuals, and children. Eligibility requirements differ from state to state. It costs you nothing to see if you or your children qualify for Medicaid so check that first before moving on to other options.
Medicare: Medicare is provided by the U.S. government and administered by the Social Security Administration. If you are 65 years old or older, or under 65 years old and disabled, you might qualify for Medicare. You may also qualify if you are getting Social Security disability benefits.
Look Ahead: In 2014, Direct Primary Care practices will be allowed to compete within state-based insurance exchanges. By eliminating insurance companies from the health care equation, these practices promise to lower the cost of medical care by up to 40 percent. You pay every month whether you go or not, go as often and whenever you want. They accept no insurance, there are no deductibles, there is no paperwork and no bill. The cost? $50 – $150 per month. This would also be a good option to combine with a catastrophic or major medical only insurance policy.
- Health Care Insurance Alternative - MoneyTalksNews’ Stacy Johnson explains how Direct Primary Care practices will work in this video.
Additional information from experts on more ways to save on health insurance in these videos:
- The Foundation for Health Coverage Education – A non-profit educational resource that provides information to help the uninsured learn about and seek health coverage, as well as providing a list of links to state and local resources and other programs to assist the uninsured.
- Health Insurance – Smart Money interview with Miller Advisors financial planner, Kathleen Miller.
- Lower Your Health Insurance Costs - Where you can look to lower your health, medical and insurance costs. Pointers from the HealthMarkets Family of Insurance Companies.
- Affordable Medical Insurance – PBS Nightly Business Report – PBS profiles those with pre-existing medical conditions who find health insurance to be too expensive or impossible to receive, even after Health Care Reform Act and gives info. to learn more about future help.
- How to Shop for Health Insurance – BankRate.com - Before buying health insurance, understand the costs, the network and the deductible.
- FREE Rx Discount Card from Your County – A FREE prescription Rx discount card from your county may be available to you – see if your county is participating and if you qualify.
More health savings ideas:
- Ways to Cut Everyday Health Care Costs - An SLTV blog post giving ways to reduce your everyday health care costs, without compromising quality on everything from dental floss to prescription eye care.