If you’re like most consumers, you’ve probably seen your health insurance premiums go up in the last year. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, family health insurance costs for those with employer-sponsored coverage increased by nine percent in 2011.
Maybe it’s time for a health insurance checkup. Take a look at what you’re paying for coverage, think about which benefits you value most, and read the following five tips designed to help you save money on health insurance in 2012:
Review your options annually. Whether you get your health insurance coverage through an employer or purchase an individual policy, you should review your options at least once per year. Health insurance companies are bringing new, innovative options to the market all the time. Just remember that it’s still possible to be declined for an individual policy due to a pre-existing medical condition. Don’t cancel your current plan until you’re officially approved for a new one.
Cultivate healthy habits. By taking care of yourself now, you may be taking care of your pocketbook in the future. A recent study conducted by eHealth Inc., found that of over 200,000 consumers with brand-name health plans purchased through www.eHealthInsurance.com, smokers paid 14 percent more on average for their monthly premiums compared to non-smokers. Policyholders with a body mass index in the “obese” range paid more than 22 percent more than those in the “normal” BMI range—an average annual savings of $444.
Try a plan with a higher deductible. If you’re relatively healthy and rarely see the doctor, consider switching to a plan with a higher annual deductible and a lower monthly premium. Thanks to the 2010 health care reform law, some preventive care services will still be available to you with no out-of-pocket cost. Just be sure that you can afford to pay the full deductible in case of a serious injury or illness.
Consider splitting up the family. There’s no law that says you need to have the whole family on a single health insurance plan. For example, some employers pay a substantial amount of employees’ monthly premiums but little—if anything -—for their dependents. You may be able to save on your monthly health insurance costs by putting your dependents on a plan of their own.
Mix and match additional benefits. Even if your employer provides dental and vision benefits, it may be worthwhile looking into these plans on your own—whether for your whole family, or just for dependents. You may be able to save money and get benefits better matched for your family’s needs.