Lower Your Family Health Insurance Deductible

May 7th 2016
It seems like your health insurance costs keep getting higher and higher, even when you're paying out the nose for deductibles. The Affordable Care Act opens some options for lowering your overall family health insurance costs. When you want to cut down the deductible, you need to look at the type of plan you have, the coverage you need and alternative options that won't end up costing you too much per month to maintain. 
What Is a Deductible?
When you incur medical bills while using a health insurance plan that has a deductible, you must pay the full deductible before you get any coverage on your out of pocket medical expenses from the insurer. In addition, certain costs do not apply to your deductible, depending on the plan. This commonly includes co-pays for doctor visits and prescription medication, which can add up if you end up at the doctor's office on a regular basis. If you've held health insurance for some time, it's worthwhile to see how long it takes for you to go through the deductible compared to the amount you pay for the monthly premium. 
If you have a high deductible that you can't afford to maintain but you can carry the cost of a monthly premium that's higher than what you're paying now, explore deductibles on the lower end of the range. Some plans don't have any deductibles at all, although they compensate for the lack of cost sharing by either limiting the coverage you get or driving the price of the premium too high to be easily affordable for many families. Balance your deductible and monthly premium payment with a level you feel comfortable with. This allows you to keep your financial goals in check without breaking the bank. Changing the co-insurance percentage may also adjust the deductible overall, although you are responsible for a certain percentage, such as 20 percent, of surgeries and other procedures that fall under the co-insurance payments. 
Health Savings Accounts
If you can't find a plan that lets you lower the deductible without driving your premiums through the roof, consider supplementing your insurance with a health savings account to cover your deductible payments instead. Although you don't directly lower the cost of the deductible, a health savings account does not charge income tax on the money you save in it. This reduces your overall tax burden at the end of the year, and the month can be used for your health expenses. This also gives you a fund to save for high-deductible plans so you aren't simply switching the money back into your bank account, which can be too easy to do when you're working with a standard savings account. If you want your funds in savings to be liquid and accessible for other purposes, such as emergencies, consider moving your savings account to a different bank so it's not as easy to get at the funds you set aside. It may take some time to build up the self-discipline, but it's well worth it when you're looking at surgery bills and hospital visits. 
Take Advantage of Tax Credits
The Affordable Care Act introduced premium tax credits to help with the cost of premiums. These credits apply to millions of Americans, as it allows you to qualify if you make 100 percent to 400 percent of the poverty level income. This allows you to cut down on the cost of the monthly premium, giving you the flexibility to move from a high-deductible plan to a lower plan. You do need to purchase a plan through the state insurance exchange supported by the Affordable Care Act, so check the plan options carefully before you leave your existing family health insurance. The state websites inform you of how much you receive for tax credits when you sign up.
References: 
(1) https://www.healthcare.gov/glossary/premium-tax-credit/

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