Life with High Deductible Health Insurance
I have a high deductible health insurance plan. When I picked this plan I read and ran the numbers ad nauseum. I was of course, nervous to see if I'd really made the right decision. Was the spreadsheet really right? Would I ever actually meet the deductible? Was the high deductible going to kill my household budget with some freak accident on January 1? I get my insurance through my employer and can opt into a Health Savings Account (HSA) as a benefit. I fund my HSA directly out of my paycheck and my employer adds some money as well each year. From January until I meet my deductible, I pay the bills and try not to think about the hundreds of dollars that are going to my medical care. I am able to set aside the sticker shock and have a plan that works well for me. I do eventually meet the deductible, and the spreadsheet didn't lie, healthcare spending was right on budget. For me, the biggest challenge was getting my head wrapped around how much my medical care costs and what I would be responsible for. I went into high deductible plan knowing that worst case I would have one difficult year and could go back to a traditional HMO-style plan at my next open enrollment period.
It was definitely a mental shift to go from traditional health plan with fixed copays for different types of care and a small deductible for some less common services. Switching to a high deductible meant that I pay my insurer's full cost of care until I hit my deductible for the year. When I meet deductible then I am only responsible for my coinsurance which is a smaller percentage of the cost for any health care or medications I need. It is quite nice when I meet the deductible and an inhaler goes from costing $200 down to $20 a piece.
One thing that gets to me sometimes about my insurance is how much paperwork is involved. I save all my receipts from anything I pay with the HSA debit card. I get an explanation of benefits and a bill for every time I got to the doctor or get other medical care.
At least the way plans are structured for my work picking between high-deductible and traditional plan only changes the cost structure. I have the same doctors, hospitals, clinics, and medications in network for me on each plan. Ultimately it has worked out well for me even though it sounded scary at first to have a high deductible. Doing the math and trusting the spreadsheet has been an economical option for me. While my plan meets the requirements for high-deductible the deductible amount is a manageable number for me. It gets easier to stomach year by year as I build up savings in my HSA. I am glad that I did not automatically cross high deductible options off my list just because I have asthma. Have you considered or selected a high deductible plan?
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