You’ve never been able to afford health insurance before, but the ACA is supposed to change all of that. However, recent reports are now surfacing that there are clear winners and losers under the new health insurance laws. Just because the marketplace is opened up, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t shop around to get a good deal or stay healthy as a preventative measure.
Assess Your Health Care Needs
The first thing to do is to assess your health care needs. Under the ACA, insurers can no longer turn you down for coverage, but there are different rates for insurance policies, depending on how much you want to pay out of pocket. Generally, the higher your premium, the lower your out of pocket costs after the premium will be. The lower your premium, the higher your out of pocket costs will be after the premium.
Companies like HSAForAmerica.com help people understand the difference between insurance that qualifies for an HSA account and policies that do not. This is important because HAS-compatible policies might be able to save you money on both your taxes as well as medical care costs. How? By placing you in control of the money you spend on health care, rather than leaving all of the expensing to the insurers and your doctors. In other words, these plans assume you’ll be more responsible with your money than someone else. That’s a fair assumption, right?
Check Out The Marketplace
The new ACA federal marketplace is open, even though many people haven’t been able to log on or actually buy a policy. The state-based exchanges are a bit hit-or-miss, but the private insurance market is still alive. Try all three avenues. All of them will give you access to ACA-compliant health insurance.
In fact, all the federal and state exchange programs do is act as a gateway between the insurance company and the federal or state government. If you go direct to the insurer, you will get the same quotes as on the exchange. In both cases, you’re eligible for subsidies too, just in case you’re worried about not being able to afford the new coverage.
If your income is up to 400 percent of the federal poverty line ($45,960 for individuals and $94,200 for a family of four in 2013), you can get tax credits that offset the premiums you pay. If you’re at 250 percent of the federal poverty line, you get a direct subsidy for out of pocket expenses.
Save Money On Prescription Drugs
Don’t just assume that you’re getting the best deal on prescription drugs because your doctor writes a script for something. Ask your local pharmacist about generics. Ask your doctor about generic alternatives. Finally, ask your insurance company about alternatives.
Compare prices at large big-box stores like Walmart. How do they compare to a place like CVS or Walgreen’s?
Compare Costs Among Many Providers
Insurance companies often have preferred labs that they work with and will reward you with a discount on services if you use them. The cost for medical procedures can also vary by tens of thousands of dollars depending on which hospital and doctor you choose to work with. The of care matters a lot under the ACA because all plans have some measure of co-insurance so you’ll be paying out of pocket for at least some of your medical costs.
Take Preventative Medicine Seriously
There’s nothing like preventative medicine. Eat right, exercise, and do a little weight lifting. All of those things will reduce your risk of getting seriously ill. Then, you won’t need to worry quite so much about the rising cost of care.
Susan Thomson is passionate about healthcare. She frequently blogs about the options and responsibilities of the public.