Being Unhealthy Can Cost You When it Comes to Health Insurance

Changes to health insurance plans have already started and the bulk of changes are still looming in the near future.  With rising costs and unhappy Americans, some employers are taking creative approaches to dealing with increasing health plan costs.  In “Your health plan: the next frontier,” Money’s Amanda Gengler tells us what we can likely expect with the future of health insurance plans.  One small company owner in Missouri made big changes when he saw skyrocketing health care costs and an increasing number of sick days being used.  He made healthy changes to the vending machines, opened a fitness center, gave free on-site check-ups, and gave big financial incentives in the form of lower deductibles and no premiums for workers who took steps to be healthy.  A big portion of increasing health care costs has been passed onto employees through higher deductibles, premiums, and co-pays.  But making healthier choices to avoid needing so much medical care is a newer way to try and save money.  It certainly benefits employees in more ways than one.

Prices vary widely from doctor to doctor, especially if you choose one that is out of network.  New plans will likely streamline your choice of doctors even more and staying in that smaller group could save you big on your premiums.  Insurers and employers save money if you don’t visit top shelf doctors who order more tests than average.  Estimates show that around 1/3 of big companies will have this type of streamlined plan by next year.  This plan might even force you to pay the entire cost of seeing an out of network doctor.  If this type of plan becomes an option to you, research what doctors and hospitals you will lose out on and see if you are happy with the replacements available.  Florida Blue says that local big-names and academic med centers aren’t usually included in these streamlined plans though.

Many companies will have you choosing your own health plan from a list they have chosen in the future.  They may pay a percentage of your plan costs or a fixed dollar amount, and the plans may even be in the private exchanges.  Plan to spend a lot more time researching plans and options and maybe even switching to a high-deductible plan to save money.  Since you will be paying a bigger percentage of your bills, employers are hoping that you will make more cost-efficient health decisions and stay healthier overall.  A healthier America may just be what it takes to lessen the increase or even decrease health care costs overall.  Expect a lot more health initiatives from your employer that could lower parts of your plan costs or offer you rewards, even cash.  But on the flip side, you might get charged more for a high BMI or high cholesterol, especially if you aren’t doing anything to change it.  The Money article has some great examples and personal stories of how health plans have changed and will continue along that road in the future.

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