What does being well mean to you? Many times we look at health as relating only to the physical body, but it is important to take care of our mental, social and financial health too! Wellness encompasses all of these factors. So, I’m going to be discussing some aspects of your financial health. This is your first installment…timed to coincide with open enrollment! Topic to tackle today…your health insurance!
Really, Health Insurance?
I know…boring…yawn…who wants to talk about that? The fact of the matter is we interact with people every day who do not understand their policies or their options. Having a good understanding of these issues will save you money and keep your stress down, which raises your whole body health!
The High Deductible!
Today I am going to focus on the High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP). Most of us hear those words and start to cringe. “What do you mean I have to cover the first $2,000 of my expenses!?” What we don’t realize is that those plans typically have lower monthly premiums. So you pay more (initially) when you visit your health care team, but less per month for your policy. This might be anywhere from 35-50% less than a copay plan. Obviously it depends on how much you visit your health care team, but even if you meet your deductible you may still pay less annually than if you had a copay plan.
Here is an example. My first year out of school I had a copay plan. I paid an average of $300/month, for all of my health care expenses (copays, premiums, bought new glasses, etc.). If I had gone with the HDHP, even paying the full amount for doctor’s office visits, I would have only spent $200/month. So I basically gave my health insurance company an extra $1,200 just for fun that year.
“What if I get into a car accident? Then I’ll be in big trouble.”
NOT TRUE! That is what your car insurance is for. In fact, in most cases your regular health insurance policy will laugh at you if you try to get them to pay for injuries related to a motor vehicle accident.
“I have insurance but it doesn’t cover anything anyways.”
Also a misconception! Yes, you have to pay the full “allowed amount” as set by the fee schedule your health insurance company agrees upon with your doctors. Keep in mind, in most cases the health insurance company has negotiated a discount for themselves (we’ll call that the allowed amount). They will process your claim at that allowed amount, and THAT is what you will owe, not the amount your doctor billed. In most cases you are never responsible for the difference between the allowed amount and the billed amount. That is called balance billing and depending on your policy, doctor’s network status (in or out?) and maybe what state you are in, balance billing might be flat out illegal, or could be a violation of your doctor’s agreement with that health insurance company.
Case in point: I have a HDHP. At a doctor’s appointment earlier this year the bill was $750. After the claim was processed, I only owed $183 because that is what my health insurance company allowed for that visit. My doctor’s office then billed me $183 and that is what I paid. If I did not have my policy, I would have owed $750. So even though my policy did not cover any portion of the allowed amount, they essentially passed their discount onto me and I saved money.
Health Savings Account
The one thing I have not mentioned….the Health Savings Account! This goes hand and hand with a high deductible health plan. Check back next week to find out more….it is far too much information to put here! It is also incredibly important and deserves it’s own dedicated time.
This was written based on my experience and opinion. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me! While my job title is chiropractor, I work for my patients and I am here to help you in any way I can. Don’t forget to ask your financial planners and HR department for help too!
Most importantly, you can never assign a dollar amount on the value of your health. Remember how important it is to eat right, sleep right, keep your stress down and get adjusted…especially heading into the holiday season!