Archive for May, 2012

Small Business Health Insurance – The Wise Choice

May 30th, 2012

Many employers offer group health insurance for their employees.  It is a great way to attract good talent to your company, and also to create strong loyalty.  Over 90 percent of companies with 100 or more employees offer group health insurance.  However, many smaller employers are struggling to offer health insurance to their staff because it is expensive.

As the economy continues to struggle, employers are looking for ways to cut their health insurance costs.  Many are either opting to reduce the benefits so the monthly premiums come down or not health insurance at all.  In order to offer group health insurance for your staff, you must have the majority of your staff participate in the insurance program.  Most carriers require around 75% participation in order to offer group health insurance.  Employers are also required to contribute to the monthly premiums.  Usually at least 50 percent of the employee cost.  This is why many prefer to get health insurance through their company because it is more affordable.

Health Insurance In Texas Anyone?

May 23rd, 2012

There are over 30 million Americans currently without health insurance.  That is a very high figure and it is not seeming to get any better.  The health care reform passed over two years ago will help lower the number of uninsured because there will be a penalty otherwise.  Starting in 2014, all Americans are required to have health insurance, either through an employer, individual market, government program or Medicare.  Some states have a larger hill to climb than others.  In Texas, there is the most uninsured individuals than any other state.  Currently, over 6 million people in Texas do not have health insurance.  Additionally, about 12% of the population is on Medicare.

Also starting in 2014 is the health care exchanges.  Each state will have an online site where consumers can shop for affordable health insurance.  The theory and hope behind these exchanges is that is will drive up competition and then drive down the cost of health insurance.  The big issue here is that will these exchanges and health reform changes actually start to drive the cost of insurance higher.

Getting The Most From Your Drug Benefits

May 18th, 2012

What can of medications do you take every year?  Do you have a monthly or weekly need when it comes to prescription drugs?  Do you take more generic or brand medications?  These questions are very important to think about before you start researching individual health insurance plans.  Many plans offer prescription coverage, but some do not.  Also, it is important to research the plan details and especially the limitations, if any, on the drug coverage.

Carriers, to keep the monthly premium low, will offer plans with weaker drug benefits.  For instance, some individual health insurance plans will have large brand deductibles on their medication coverage.  Some are even as high as $7,500 for their brand deductible.  So this is essentially saying that you will have to pay for most of your brand drugs yourself.  Other plans have lower brand deductibles but will cost you more per month.

Getting The Right Drug Benefits

May 11th, 2012

Many health insurance plans have drug benefits.  It is important to research all the benefit details so you know what type of coverage each plan offers.  Most individual health insurance plans come in the PPO form, and most come with some type of prescription coverage.  However, not all of them cover the full range of drug types.  For instance, generic drugs for the most parts are always covered if plans cover prescription medications.  Brand and tier 3 drugs are sometimes not covered.  Also, the level of coverage is not always the same.

For brand medication, which is the most common type of medications purchased, usually have a deductible portion on the insurance plan.  Meaning, you have to first meet the brand deductible before you can start paying the co-pay amounts.  And these deductibles vary greatly.  If you take a lot of medication on a frequent basis, consider choosing a health insurance plan with a low brand deductible.  Or, see if the drugs you take come in generic form.

What Is Next For Health Insurance?

May 8th, 2012

Starting in 2014, many people will be forced to getting health insurance.  This is because of the health reform and the news rules that came out two years ago.  It is currently in the Supreme Court and they are ruling whether or not the health reform laws are constitutional.  The ruling should come out in June of this year and it will have a huge implication on the health care industry.  Currently, there are over 4 million people with no health insurance in California.  Many of these individuals will be searching for health insurance in the next two years.  As the economy continues to struggle, many are forced to buy individual coverage as the group insurance market is still weak.  Another concern though is the affordability of health insurance.  The monthly cost is still very high and many are wondering if they would rather be without insurance.  If your healthy, many will not need it because they won’t use it, and if your unhealthy chances are you will not be approved.

The health reform makes it that no one will be denied health insurance in 2014.  The health insurance exchanges in each state will make an online marketplace where people can shop for affordable individual health insurance.  It still remains to be seen how many will actually use this channel to get health insurance.

How To Save On Individual Health Insurance

May 7th, 2012

There are many different types of California health insurance plans in the marketplace.  Before you decide on which plan is right for you, here are some helpful tips to save you some money.

1) Comparison shop across all the health insurance plans

It is very important for you to shop the health insurance market to find the right plan and save  money.  There are literally hundreds of plans with different benefits for each.  Based on your affordability, see what plans make sense for your health history.  If you are a healthier person, maybe a higher deductible plan will be the right route for you.  Additionally, some health insurance carriers could be more
competitive from a pricing standpoint than others, and that can save you some
money in your wallet.

2) Choose a health insurance plan with a smaller network

If network size is not an important factor for you, then
maybe picking a health insurance plan with a smaller network might be your best
option.  This will instantly save you money because health insurance carriers
will always charge you a premium if the network is large.  Research to see if
your doctor is in the network you are choosing.

3) Increase your deductible on your health insurance plan

The easiest way to make your health
premiums go down and save you money is to increase your
deductible.  The deductible is the money you have to pay out of your own pocket
first before the insurance carrier will start paying benefits.  If you have a
higher deductible, you are taking on more risk so the carriers will give you a
break.  If you are a healthy person, consider choosing a plan with a higher
premium to save you some money on your health insurance.

4) Consider your health history and how old you are

Knowing your own health history is very important when
choosing a health insurance plan.  Health insurance plans have all different
kind of benefits.  For instance, if you do not have a history of taking
prescription drugs, then pick a plan with lower drug benefits and that will
lower your health insurance premium.  On the other hand, if you have certain
needs that you know will require rich benefits, then picking a plan with a
little bit higher monthly premium will save you money in the long run.

5) Ask your employer if they offer health insurance

For the most part, group insurance through your employer
will have lower monthly premiums.  This is also because employers are required
to contribute towards your health coverage and that will always save you money.
Additionally, group insurance plans usually have better benefits than individual
plans so that can also lead to savings in your pocket.

6) Consider HSAs to maximize your tax

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are great ways to spend your tax dollars
wisely.  These health insurance plans are meant for people who have recurring or
predictable health care needs. The dollars are put into an account that is tax
sheltered and you can pay down your medical bills using those dollars.

Learn About Medicare

May 4th, 2012

As baby boomers continue to retire, Medicare will play a vital role in their health care and the overall care of the U.S..  Once you reach the age of 65, you have the option of going on Medicare.  The government provides the insurance for those who qualify.  As you earned income throughout your life, some of your tax dollars has been going towards Medicare.  When you do turn 65, you can immediately enroll in Medicare.  However, if you do not enroll when you turn 65, then the only time to enroll in Medicare is during the annual enrollment period that is every December.  Some people, however, work for another company that offers health insurance and they choose to stay on that plan.  If that is the case, Medicare benefits may still help you.  If the company has over 20 employees then Medicare benefits will still be applied to most situations.

The Medicare benefits are mostly for hospitalization and basic services.  To further beef up your benefits, you can purchase additional insurance that will work with your Medicare coverage.  This additional insurance is sometimes known as supplemental insurance.  The additional insurance covers benefits such as prescription drugs and doctor visits.  Medicare is a much cheaper option to getting traditional insurance in the open market.

What Is Out-of-Pocket Maximum?

May 2nd, 2012

Each health insurance plans has unique benefits and some vary by what they give you.  Obviously, the more you are willing to spend in monthly premium the better your benefits tend to be.  Most individual health insurance are offered through the PPO channel.  Additionally, these benefits are driven by three major factors: deductible, prescription benefits and out of pocket maximum.  The deductible is the amount of money the member is responsible for before the insurance carrier will start to help with expenses.  Once you reach your deductible, you will be paying your coinsurance rate until you reach your out of pocket maximum.  This is an important number.  Because generally, it is your ceiling, basically your worst case scenario for the calendar year.  The lower the out of pocket maximum, the higher your monthly premium will be.  So you have to make a trade off and ask yourself how much you are willing to pay and what the probability is of the worst case scenario.

Most health insurance plans have a out of pocket maximum around $3,000 to $7,000.  It is important to know your health history before making this decision.  If your generally a healthier person, then maybe choosing a health insurance plan with a higher deductible and out of pocket maximum makes the most sense for you.  And also, will save you the most amount of money.