Yesterday, we received news from the Supreme Court that Obamacare had been upheld. I think many were under the impression that results would be immediate. However, Universal Healthcare will be coming to a store near you in 2014. So in the mean time, where does one find affordable healthcare?
That is a bit of a loaded question. What exactly is affordable? Many are still out of work. Peanut butter is sky high. The first step to finding affordable healthcare would be a hard look at your finances. What are you paying in bills? What are you paying for food? Where can you cut back? Can you cut back? Realize that chances are slim to none you’ll be able to get the same plan at the same cost as someone who has theirs subsidized through work.
Prepare yourself for some serious research. Insurme.com is a great site to comparison shop various plans. This will give you a pretty good idea of what to expect. Be aware of what your plan covers. Does it cover well visits? How much are you liable for if you land in the emergency room? What about prescription drug costs? Also keep in mind that a low monthly payment can mean a high deductible or lesser coverage and vice-versa. Now that you know your product, I recommend 2 sites: Healthcare.org and ehealhinsurance.com. The process is fairly simple. Both sites will require you to fill out some basic information about you and your family. Within an hour of doing this, your phone and email will be bombarded by offers.
Though annoying, both sites offer plans that may not be found anywhere else. Regardless of what you are told, you do not have to agree to anything on the spot. Take down notes, tell them you’d like to think it over and ask if they would call back another time. Many will actually set up an appointment for the call. The ball is totally in your court. If you have a favorite provider (doctor), this would be a good time to see if they accept your new found insurance. If all lights are green, go ahead an make your purchase.
There are programs in place to help offset your costs. For a high deductible health plan, be sure to look in to a Health Savings Account (HSA). The money you deposit into this account is not subject to income tax and the funds roll over at the end of the year. There is also the Flexible Spending Account; this account is not limited to high deductible health plan subscribers. It is not subject to income tax but nlike the HSA, unused funds are lost at the end of the year.
Now, some of us truly don’t have the money for health insurance. The Uninsured need to shop around. When finding a doctor, let them know you will be paying out of pocket. Then ask a few questions: How much are well and sick visits going to cost? How much money is needed upfront for service? If you have kids, ask about immunization costs. Compare those costs against local low-cost healthcare clinics before making an appointment. Look into emergency care clinics in your area. Sometimes the emergency room is truly unavoidable but a clinic will save you hundreds of dollars each time.
A hospital by law, cannot refuse treatment on the the basis of inability to pay. With that said, you have the power to negotiate. Many providers have affordable monthly payment plans upon request. If you are still unable to pay, call the billing department immediately. Most places would rather have some money as opposed to no money. Often times, you will see discounts for payment by cash and immediate payment overall. I’m sure you’re wondering how much. While outcomes may very, I was able to take a $750 bill down to $175. $125 was paid at service and $50 was all I could afford to pay afterwards. The billing department accepted it as such and the account was satisfied.
Out of pocket prescription costs can be pretty outrageous as well. Usually, the prescriptions you receive have generic versions or over the counter counterparts. Ask your pharmacist. If this is not the case, you can go online to the drug company’s website and print off coupons. You can also call the company and have coupons mailed to you. Your doctor may have them in the office. There’s no harm in asking. You might want to look into a discount drug card. Just be sure to do you research.
Until 2014, research is the key to affordable health insurance. Ask the questions and take care of yourself. Good luck!