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08/07/2014

How to Offset the Costs of Rising Health Insurance

As the cost of healthcare continues to rise, consumers are scrambling to find affordable and comprehensive healthcare coverage.

As reported by CNNMoney.com, the Kaiser Family Foundation found in its most recent annual survey that 45 percent and 95 percent of companies (with up to nine employees and 50-plus employees, respectively) offer health insurance benefits. These companies pay, on average, $12,443 to PPO plans and $11,879 to HMO plans, with employees kicking in approximately $3,236 and $3,311, respectively.

The survey also said that employers this year are very likely to increase either employee premiums or certain aspects of their particular plans, such as deductibles, office visits and prescription costs.

Whether you participate in an employer-sponsored plan, or pay for healthcare on your own, there are several ways to reduce these costs.

Deal or No Deal

Consumers can sometimes negotiate lower physician or hospital service rates. Before paying out-of-pocket expenses or making payments towards a high deductible, contact your insurance company and request the rates that it pays physicians in your area. These are generally lower than provider rates, and if so, the entity may accept your request to pay a similar amount.

Are you a Real Doctor?

Consider going to a dental school where services cost much less than those in a typical dental office. You can save a great deal of money on routine items such as cleanings and fillings, to major services like root canals and tooth extractions (note: even though the work is performed by students earning practical experience toward their degrees, they are supervised by licensed dental personnel).

Don't Always Take a "Rollover"

Employer insurance plans often have annual open enrollment periods. This is a good time to review any changes in your individual or family needs, and to look over the differences between the offered plans. Although the premiums may be about the same, the co-pays, deductibles and covered services may be quite different, and the latter could result in higher out-of-pocket costs for you.

Free Samples

Before leaving the doctor's office with a prescription, ask for a few samples to get you started. They get oodles for free from the drug companies, so why not pass a few along to you? This will save you money, the samples could be enough to resolve your ailment and if that particular drug does not work for you, you will know it before buying a full tube or bottle of something you cannot use!

Go Generic

Ask you doctor for a generic prescription option, if available, which usually costs significantly less. Ordering two-, three- or six-month supplies also generally cost 15 percent to 35 percent less than monthly co-payments paid at the pharmacy. When purchasing over-the-counter remedies, compare ingredients between the name brand and no-name store brands. If they are the same, buy the cheaper, no-name brand.

Lysa Allman-Baldwin possesses over 12 years of experience as a Freelance Writer. Her feature articles covering a wide variety of topics appear regularly in several print and on-line publications.





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