Healthy Family | Home Safety | Health and Wealth | Relationship Issues | Career Advice | Growing Family
Get the SixWise e-Newsletter FREE!
Google Web
Free Newsletter Subscription
Get the Web's Most trusted & Informative Health, Wealth, Safety & More Newsletter -- FREE!


Share Email to a Friend Print This

Creative Approaches to Finding Affordable Health Insurance


In 2007, the average American spent $7,600 on health care, for a total sum of $2.3 trillion. Even for families covered by an employer's health plan, annual premiums averaged out at over $12,000 for a family of four. If this sounds like a lot, you'd better sit down, as health care spending is rising at the fastest rate in history.

health care expenses

Americans spent an average of $7,600 each on health care in 2007.

National health expenditures rose nearly 7 percent in 2007, according to the National Coalition on Health Care, which is two times the rate of inflation. Health care spending is expected to reach $3 trillion by 2011, and over $4 trillion by 2016.

With costs like these, it's no wonder that nearly 47 million Americans are uninsured, and a recent study conducted by Commonwealth Fund found that as of 2007, 41 percent of working-age Americans, or approximately 72 million people, carry some sort of medical debt.

If you've been avoiding getting the necessary health insurance because you can't afford it, consider that about 18,000 people die every year in the United States because they don't have health insurance, according to the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

National surveys show that the primary reason people are uninsured is the high cost of health insurance coverage, but what you may not realize is that "affordable" and "health insurance" can wind up in the same sentence.

How to Find Affordable Health Insurance ... Really

An employer-sponsored health care plan may be the most affordable route, then again it may not. And for those who are self-employed employer plans are not an option. So the first thing to decide when you begin to wade through the seemingly unlimited number of health plans out there is how much coverage you need.

The amount of coverage that you need depends on you. If you rarely go to the doctor and are generally healthy, a high-deductible plan with mostly emergency coverage may suffice as a "safety net."

If you get sick often, and are in and out of doctors' offices, you'll want a plan that covers office visits, medications and the like. If you have children, you'll also want to decide whether you want their office visits to be covered.

You also need to think about whether you want coverage for things like elective surgeries or pregnancy, as you may need special additions for these. If you can get by with a bare-bones, high-deductible plan, it will likely save you hundreds of dollars in premiums, but only you can determine that.

baby health insurance

The best way to save money on health insurance? Make sure you have the right amount of coverage. If you rarely visit the doctor, opt for a high-deductible plan or an HSA. If you visit the doctor often, opt for a plan with more comprehensive coverage.

Next, decide what your priorities are. Is it important for you to see a certain doctor? Have low co-pays? Low monthly premiums? Have the freedom to see different specialists? Once you figure out what's most important to you, you can begin to narrow down which insurance companies and plans are right for you.

From there, paring down your health insurance costs may be easier than you think. The following tips will ensure that you're getting the most health insurance bang for your buck:

  1. Clean up your lifestyle. If you smoke or are overweight, quitting smoking and losing some weight will lower your premiums.

  2. Fit and athletic? Tell the company. Certain companies will offer "preferred plus" rates to 1 percent to 2 percent of their most fit customers. These are usually triathlon athletes or others in their physical prime.

  3. Pay your bills on time. A decreasing credit score, caused by late payments on any of your bills, can cause your insurance rates to go up.

  4. Stay loyal. If you love your coverage and have been with a company for a while, ask for a long-time customer discount. Some companies will reduce premiums by 5 percent to 10 percent. Even so, it doesn't hurt to shop around about once a year to make sure your rates are still competitive.

  5. Combine your insurance policies. If you're getting your health, auto and homeowner's insurance from two or more different agencies, consider consolidating them into one. Most insurance companies will lower your rates if you have multiple policies with them.

  6. Try using an insurance broker. He or she can find and compare plans and rates from a number of different insurance companies so you can find the best plan, with the best price.

  7. Consider a health savings account (HSA). An HSA is ideal for those who do not visit the doctor often, and have a high-deductible, low-premium plan. The money you save on premiums gets deposited into the HSA, pre-tax, where it grows tax-deferred and can be used to pay for medical expenses. When you turn 65 you can then withdraw the money to be used for anything you want.

Recommended Reading

Universal Health Care: What's the Debate All About?

Should Health Insurance Cover Alternative Treatments? A Current Overview


National Coalition on Health Care July 14, 2008

To get more information about this and other highly important topics, sign up for your free subscription to our weekly "Be Safe, Live Long & Prosper" e-newsletter.

With every issue of the free newsletter, you’ll get access to the insights, products, services, and more that can truly improve your well-being, peace of mind, and therefore your life!

Share Email to a Friend Print This