Maximizing Your High Deductible Health Plan
Your most valuable possession is yourself – body, mind and spirit. An incredibly magnificent instrument that provides the means for you to feel, hold, move, learn, remember and create. The quality of life you’ll be able to enjoy is in direct correlation to the level of care you provide for yourself. That’s even more critical during or after a major accident or illness.
The health insurance plans we know as HDHP’s, or High Deductible Health Plans, came on the scene in the early 2000’s. They were designed as consumer-driven plans, allowing the consumer to decide when and how to best use their health insurance dollars. By selecting a higher deductible (over $1,350 for single coverage), the consumer receives the benefit of being able to set aside some of the money they are saving, into a Health Savings Account (up to $3,450 for individuals). These accounts are tax favored and can accumulate from year to year.
Here are some key ways to maximize this customer-driven plan:
- Know the details of your policy benefits, including vision & dental
- Take advantage of every covered preventative visit (wellness and annual exams) in order to track any health changes from year to year
- Invest the difference of what a traditional plan (PPO) would cost and put it into a Health Savings Account
- If the PPO would cost $200 each month and the HDHP is $130, invest the $70
- Strive to build your savings account to cover at least your annual deductible and maximum out of pocket costs
- If your company has a matching program, take full advantage to earn every dollar you can
- Take advantage of teledoc and pharmacy medical centers; emergency rooms should truly be used for emergencies
- Licensed physicians can quickly assess minor health issues, such as allergies, colds or flu, over the phone or at the pharmacy
- Research alternative medical resources within your network ahead of time, especially for MRI’s, CAT scans and other specialties – the savings could be in the $100’s
- Make additional contributions to your HSA any chance you have, up to the annual limit, including any company contributions. It’s your plan to grow over the years.
- If you lose your HDHP for a season, you can still use your HSA for approved medical expenses, like prescriptions. You won’t be able to contribute any additional funds until you are covered again by a HDHP.
- Be patient as you slowly build your health account. Think of the long term benefit of having that savings net during your older years, when health costs may be the biggest obstacle to retiring when you want to.
At the end of the day, a few hours of research and planning ahead of an illness or emergency can literally save you thousands of dollars. Review your benefits each year during open enrollment, update your beneficiaries and take the best care possible of your beautiful self.