When planning your health costs for your entire family, you have to be extra careful. It’s not just your health at stake but that of your spouse and kids. With yearly health costs for a family of four at around $28,000 nowadays, there’s no room for error.
Navigating the health insurance landscape is more complicated than ever before. With both individual plans, employer insurance, and even federal programs, how do you know where to begin? Read through these tips below to learn more about choosing a smart plan for your family’s health costs.
Source of Health Insurance
As we listed above, there are a few different ways to get health insurance for your entire family. In this day and age, insurance isn’t optional. Even if you don’t expect to need any office visits or exams, your kids will likely need their annual physical. It’s also impossible to plan for emergencies. Anything can happen, so an insurance plan will keep you and your family covered for both regular check-ups and emergency treatment. The answer? Internet is your go-to resource. Browse the companies offering health insurance and find the one that is the most suitable for your needs.
Common Insurance Sources:
Employer - Most “traditional” insurance plans are through an employer. Most companies with over 50+ full-time employees have to offer health insurance. This is a type of group coverage, and it’s usually the most affordable option since your employer covers some of the cost. You can cover your spouse (and vice-versa) as well as any dependents for an additional cost.
Marketplace - Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), there are now both federal and state programs that offer affordable plans to those who were not eligible or couldn’t afford employer insurance. This includes people with pre-existing conditions, those who are unemployed, and the self-employed.
Individual - Finally, you can purchase an individual health plan outside of your employer. These can be purchased directly through insurance companies or through a broker. This might be the best option if you need special coverage or flexible options.
Even if you qualify for employer coverage, it might be worth looking into other options. Depending on your employer, the provided coverage might not be enough for your entire healthcare cost. In addition, supplemental coverage with vision and dental options might also be a smart choice.
There are no one-size-fits-all numbers that fit into family health equations. Only you know how much coverage you’ll actually need every year. The best way to consider your costs is to think about how much health coverage you’ve used in past years. Are your kids prone to injury or illness? Do you expect you’ll need access to specialists or regular exams? If so, you’ll need to make sure you have coverage for out-of-network providers.
On the other hand, if you don’t expect to need significant medical coverage in the next year, you might be able to just purchase an “emergency” plan. These plans have a high deductible which means you’ll need to pay more before insurance kicks in, but they’ll also include lower month-to-month costs. It’s safe to say it’s better to have more insurance than less insurance. Be realistic and generous with your estimates and how much you’re legitimately able to pay.
Medical bankruptcy isn’t an uncommon occurrence. In 2015, 26% of American adults struggled to pay medical bills. Avoid becoming another statistic yourself by keeping your cost estimate clear from the beginning so you can choose an insurance option that protects your family.
Lowering Health Costs
While it’s impossible to avoid paying for healthcare altogether, there are some tips you can use to keep costs as low as possible. Your first line of defense is to encourage your family to lead a healthy lifestyle. Diet and exercise prevent a lot of problems like disease and illness. Beyond this, stay on top of your yearly exams and wellness checks.
Health Hacks for Lowering Costs
Telemedicine - Virtual medicine is a new reality. Speaking with a doctor over the phone or video is an inexpensive alternative to last-minute doctor visits. You can even get certain prescriptions prescribed in this manner without worrying about copays.
Pay Cash - Work with your doctor to negotiate a lower cost. Many providers are willing to work with patients who can pay cash to offer a discount or payment plan.
Health Savings Accounts (HSA) - Consider starting an HSA to assist with medical costs. These plans are easy to establish, and they’re a great way to prepare for the unexpected.
As the head of the family, it’s up to you to choose a health plan that makes sense for everyone. Your health is one of the most important things you have, so treat it well. From insurance to calculating costs, these tips above are necessary to keep your wallet and your health in check.