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How to Make the Most of Your New Plan Year

If you are like the majority of people in this country, you have likely just renewed your medical insurance for January 1st. Even if you haven’t renewed yet, these tips will apply to you when your particular policy starts anew.

Are you feeling overwhelmed thinking about starting a new deductible on your insurance this year? Most Americans are subject to high deductibles, where they must pay first before the insurance company starts to kick in. These deductibles have risen dramatically over the past decade, now averaging $2,500 for self only coverage and $5,000 for most family plans.

Good news— we have some tips and tricks to help you make the most of your money until these deductibles are met and you start to feel some relief.

1.Shop, shop, shop! No, I'm not talking about at the mall. Most people spend a half hour or more researching the best prices when it comes to household goods and electronics, so why not take the same precaution when selecting your medical and pharmacy care? Most major insurance companies offer fantastic resources on their websites to allow consumers to shop around and make more educated purchasing decisions. You can easily save by switching from one pharmacy to another, or using a particular facility for services like MRI's.

2. Use the proper settings for your care. Have a sinus infection? Strep throat? Skin rash? Skip the emergency room's high price tag and long wait times, and instead check out your insurer’s telemedicine program. Most major insurance companies partner with a third party vendor to provide access to board certified physicians right on your smart phone or tablet. They can diagnose and treat many of these nuisance conditions for a fraction of the cost!

3. Switch to a less expensive prescription. Most prescriptions on the market have at least one alternative that could save you cold hard cash at the pharmacy. Many of these alternatives have exactly the same ingredients, or do exactly the same thing, so rest assured you are not sacrificing quality or safety. Talk to your physician or pharmacist to see if there is a less expensive option that can be used to treat your condition.

4. Maximize your tax advantaged accounts. Does your employer offer a health savings account, or flexible spending account? Both of these are accounts that allow you to set aside money from your paycheck pre-tax to pay for medical, prescription, dental, and vision expenses. Why not use these accounts and pay less of your hard earned money to Uncle Sam! Depending on your tax bracket, you can save anywhere between 25-40% on each dollar you put in these accounts. Be sure to consult your employer or benefits advisor to find out the maximum amount you can put into each of these accounts.

5. Consider purchasing optional insurance coverage to help you with your deductible exposure. Many employers are adding additional voluntary insurance products like accident, critical illness, or hospital plans that pay you if you experience certain events throughout the year. For example, with accident coverage, if you are injured because you slip and fall this winter, and you need to have an x-ray and other follow up care, you could receive a benefit from these policies that can help you with your out of pocket costs.

While there is not much you can do about rising deductibles on your health insurance, there are many ways to cut costs within your plan. As your broker, we continually strive to streamline the benefits experience for your organization to help you in choosing the best plan for your needs without breaking the bank.

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